“Being deployed at the migrant worker dormitories has been an eye-opening experience,” says Justin Ng, a Clinical Research Coordinator with SERI. He volunteered at the dormitories from 20 April to 5 June. As a ‘runner’, his job was to collect swab samples from the different dormitories and send them to laboratories for analysis.
Not being attached to any particular team due to the nature of his duties, Justin had to improvise. “I had to familiarise myself with the different teams and their ways of working, then come up with a system to make everyone’s day a little easier,” he shares. “These connections grew stronger, and I’m glad to have known them during these tough times.” This familiarity extended to the migrant workers. “I also got to know more about the people I was helping.”
While Justin’s working hours often ran into weekends and public holidays, he shares how touched he was by the sacrificial nature of the COVID-19 warriors around him, who frequently and generously offered to chip in on their days off. “Everyone helped one another; it was truly a comforting sight to behold.” On his part, Justin tried to offer simple greetings at the dormitories to distract healthcare workers there from the discomfort of having to don PPE under the blazing sun. “It was my way of giving encouragement and letting them know that we’re in this together. I hope to have dropped a hint of positivity within the group to keep them going,” he enthuses.
Besides caring colleagues, another source of comfort for Justin was the support he received from family, friends and supervisors during that period; they sent him words of encouragement from time to time, and reminded him that what he was doing was for something much larger than himself. What leaves Justin discouraged, though, is the misconception that healthcare workers are not ‘clean’, and are sure to catch COVID-19. Eager to bust this myth, he stresses, “While there is a risk of catching the virus as we face COVID-19 patients every day, our strict adherence to safety protocols — such as wearing PPE and disinfecting everything that we have come in contact with — brings that risk down significantly.”
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