When Singapore entered DORSCON orange, “patients began to panic, calling in to change their appointments”, recalls Angeline Ng, Senior Appointment Assistant, Call Centre. The situation worsened when the Circuit Breaker started: her team had to deal with a surge in calls, mostly enquiries on re-scheduling appointments. Although she is spending more time explaining new policies to callers, and coordinating between patients and relevant departments, she is grateful for a large number of understanding patients. “Some of them start the call quite aggressively, but they end with ‘take care’, ‘stay safe’, or ‘we know you’re having a hard time’. These little words are really encouraging!”
Because of COVID-19, our Call Centre’s call back service has been implemented to work daily to cope with the new normal of a greater influx of calls. This service used to be in effect only on Mondays, and during periods of high call volume. “Taking overflow calls has resulted in shorter waiting times for patients to be connected to a call agent. All team members stay back for an hour or two to clear outstanding cases within the same day.” Concurrently, Angeline is training new staff who joined SNEC in April 2020 — “we sit at least 1 metre apart, of course!” In addition, there are after-hours team huddles so that the Call Centre Manager can update them on new directives and protocols that they need to convey to callers.
Angeline’s biggest challenge is probably convincing patients to stick to their re-scheduled appointments, unless their condition deteriorates drastically. In such urgent cases, “we advise them to walk in to our Acute Care Clinic or SGH’s Emergency department”.
Angeline, who has been with SNEC since 2016, does not mind the extra workload, and she is aware that her contributions support colleagues on the frontlines of the effort to contain and eradicate the COVID-19 virus. “We must cope with the high volume of calls and just manage it. This is not much compared to those frontliners, who are exposing themselves to the virus.” Having supportive colleagues helps. “We take turns to buy bubble tea to de-stress, while our manager orders food whenever we work overtime,” she shares.
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