“Similar to them, I live far from my family; if I were in their position, I’d feel fearful and lonely,” says Helen Hua, referring to the migrant workers housed in a Swab Isolation Facility (SIF), where she is a volunteer. Helen, who hails from Vietnam, has been working at SNEC for the last 10 years.
Currently an Assistant Manager in Patient Liaison Services, Helen takes care of patients, helping them make appointments with eye doctors, and acting as interpreter for Vietnamese-speaking patients. At the SIF, she is a ground commander. “I coordinate with the security, admin and medical teams to ensure proper security arrangements and infection-control precautions upon the migrant workers’ arrival and departure,” she clarifies. Her day usually starts at 8am and ends at about 7pm, depending on the conveyance schedule. She was part of the team that set up the SIF. “We had to set up everything from Day 1.”
Helen shares that the migrant workers are isolated at the SIF while awaiting their swab results. Those who are clinically unwell are sent to hospitals for further assessment and treatment. She also reveals that many of them arrived from their dorms bringing little; some may have a backpack or plastic bag of personal belongings. “We empathise with them as they are far from home and anxious about their condition. Most of them are worried; the first question they often ask is ‘am I positive?’”
Understandably, Helen has her concerns when she started her deployment in early May. “But I realised that if we observe proper personal and hand hygiene, and wear full PPE (personal protective equipment) correctly, we are protected.” Speaking of PPE, she says it is quite uncomfortable to wear. “You can see everyone sweating and ‘swimming’ inside their PPE!” Despite the challenges of her deployment, Helen relishes being out of her comfort zone, and appreciates the high level of teamwork displayed by staff from different SingHealth institutions.
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