Medical Social Worker Calista Chua and her colleagues have been facing a more intense work environment during this period of COVID-19. “We have observed a significant increase in referrals to our Medical Social Work (MSW) department,” she shares. Patients are also “more anxious and frustrated as they grieve over the loss of finances and freedom”.
But it is far more than just a surge in patient numbers to MSW. “Some of us have been pooled with other social workers and counsellors to man the COVID-19 National CARE Hotline, a helpline set up to provide emotional support to those who need it during the COVID-19 crisis.” To better respond to patient needs, Calista and her team have compiled a list of resources, both financial and in-kind, such as meal support and hotlines for emotional and psychological support. They have also been liaising with internal departments, MSW departments in other institutions, and MOH to streamline all their processes.
To allay the fears of friends and family, Calista has to constantly assure them that additional precautions have been implemented at work. Besides staggered lunch breaks, “we have also been diligently sanitising our workstations before and after a session with patients, and before we hand over the room to another colleague”. She admits that her family still worries about her catching the virus since she is travelling to and from a healthcare institution.
Despite these difficult times, Calista’s care and concern for her patients still shine through. “Face-to-face contact is important in our line of work. But it is no longer something we easily have today, and I really miss that,” she says. Calista is glad for supportive colleagues, who never fail to encourage each other, often with snacks and beverages. “These have been great sources of stress-relief!”
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