Celebrating SNEC’s 30 years in ophthalmology amid a pandemic is one of the most significant moments in our history.
COVID-19 has taught us many life lessons, and given us opportunities to step up and band together as ONE SNEC-SERI, to work through times of change. From heightened infection control measures to channelling resources to the frontline, we spared no effort to keep patients, staff, and our communities safe. A total of 189 staff from various departments went above and beyond their duties to contribute towards the battle against COVID-19.
Clin Assoc Prof Mohamad Rosman, Dr Lim Hou Boon, Dr Charles Ong, Director of Nursing Ms Loh Huey Peng and Assistant Chief Operating Officer Mr Jim Gu were part of the SingHealth team that provided assistance in managing the migrant worker dormitories, as well as medical staff deployment and operations at the Community Care Facility (CCF) in Singapore EXPO
and the Swab Isolation Facility (SIF). Many other SNEC and SERI staff – from the housekeeping and admin support teams to allied health, clinical research coordinators and nurses and clinicians on the frontline – had also stepped forward to volunteer their services, such as doing swab tests, on the ground.
Our staff who volunteered externally were not the only ones who displayed tenacity and courage. Behind the scenes, many other colleagues also worked tirelessly to implement operational changes to enhance our preparedness while continuing to provide essential services amid the COVID-19 situation. Several of our SERI research coordinators and other colleagues were also redeployed to SNEC to help out in various operational aspects like making calls to patients and conducting tests at the evaluation rooms with our nurses.
It took many people and a huge effort to bring the COVID-19 situation under control, especially among Singapore’s migrant worker community. In this section, we feature some of our colleagues on the frontline and behind the scenes of that effort. These stories were featured on
SNEC-SERI Facebook Page between May and July 2020. Scroll down to read about their experiences.
Staff Nurse from SNEC’s Operating Theatre, Sarah Eng, stepped up to support the fight against COVID-19 at SGH’s Isolation Ward, where her key role was to ensure the safety of other healthcare workers on the frontline.
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Staff Nurse at SNEC Operating Theatre, Alicia Tan, volunteered to be deployed at SGH’s Emergency Department to conduct infection control audits and keep patients and staff safe.
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When COVID-19 arrived on our shores, staff nurse at SNEC, Ong Chu Ting, volunteered in SGH’s Emergency Department as part of the team of medical professionals who have stepped up to contain the virus.
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Since COVID-19 struck, Projects Executive with ISS, Mohamed Kahir Bin Abu Bakar has used his experience through SARS to establish cleaning protocols at SNEC and motivate his team of cleaners.
SNEC’s Medical Social Worker Calista Chua and her colleagues have been facing a more intense work environment during the period of COVID-19, as there has been a significant increase in case referrals with patients seeking more financial and emotional support.
Since COVID-19 appeared in Singapore, Senior Enrolled Operating Theatre Nurse at SNEC, Arumugam Kalyrani, volunteered to be deployed at Singapore Expo in spite of the concerns expressed by her loved ones.
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In these COVID-19 times, Cindy Tan hopes to fulfill her duties as Senior Associate Executive in Quality Service and Office of Patient Experience as best she can. Cindy and her team handle patient feedback, and they are keenly aware that patients have been extra sensitive during the pandemic.
Senior Staff Nurse in SNEC’s Day Ward, Ganchalee Sae Gan, was attached to the Fever Screening Area (FSA) and SGH’s Emergency department during her deployment to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. Her scope of duties was a far cry from her regular duties at SNEC, one of which was informing patients of their COVID test results.
Ever since Singapore entered DORSCON orange, Senior Appointment Assistant Angeline Ng and her colleagues at the Call Centre have had to deal with a greater influx of calls from patients on a day-to-day basis. The situation worsened when the Circuit Breaker started.
Working right on the COVID-19 frontline is Clin Assoc Prof Mohamad Rosman. The head and senior consultant of SNEC’s Refractive Surgery Department is also a Dorm Medical Officer overseeing the medical teams at migrant worker dorms assigned to SingHealth.
Consultant with SNEC’s surgical retina department, Dr Daniel Ting, returned to Singapore from London, UK ahead of time when his expertise was needed, and he joined the research and innovation taskforce committee of the Community Care Facility (CCF) @ Singapore EXPO.
Director of Nursing at SNEC, Loh Huey Peng, volunteered without hesitation at Singapore EXPO when it was converted into a Community Care Facility for patients with mild symptoms. As the Nursing Lead, she worked 12-hour shifts in the initial weeks of her deployment.
After responding to a call for volunteers when COVID-19 struck Singapore, Lim Mun Ching, a Senior Optometrist with SNEC’s Optometry Service, found herself volunteering at the Singapore EXPO Community Care Facility as part of the logistics and operations team and clocking 12-hour days.
When Singapore’s healthcare system pivoted towards tackling the COVID-19 situation, Thng Poh Geok experienced changes to her usual scope of work. The Senior Healthcare Attendant at SNEC’s clinic in Sengkang General Hospital took on patient-facing tasks apart from her dispatch duties.
Stepping forward in support of national COVID-19 efforts was Assoc Prof Ian Yeo, who was deployed as a senior doctor to one of Singapore EXPO’s medical teams, a Community Care Facility, to monitor the health of all residents there. The team works on 12-hour shifts to manage their new symptoms and existing chronic conditions.
Facilities Manager with ISS, Muhammad Nur Bin Wagiyoh and his team have worked around the clock to implement various safe-distancing measures around the Centre. He is one of our many unseen heroes who has stepped up his game to combat COVID-19.
Aiding in the national effort to contain COVID-19 at the Department of Laboratory Medicine (DLM), Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) is Victor Yong, Research Officer with the Ocular Genomics Research Group in SERI. Victor works manually to tests swab samples collected by external sites, and his greatest morale booster is seeing negative results.
Assistant Manager in Patient Liaison Services, Helen Hua, volunteered at a Swab Isolation Facility during the COVID-19 pandemic. Helen hails from Vietnam, and identifies with the fear and loneliness migrant workers may face while housed in the SIF, where she was a ground commander.
While being deployed at the Singapore EXPO Community Care Facility on 12-hour shifts and six-day cycles to look after COVID-positive migrant workers, Dr Stanley Poh came face to face with many patients. Working in the Sick Bay, he dealt with common complaints such as chest pains and headaches.
Staff Nurse in Nursing Outpatient Clinics 1 & 2, Ong Yew Gin, was deployed at SGH’s Emergency Department (ED) to support the staff there. He had to cope with new tasks, higher patient load and quicker patient turnaround.
As an Operating Theatre Technical Associate, Mohamed Muhaled’s main duty is the setting up of equipment for various types of procedures. With the post-circuit breaker reopening underway, more services and surgeries are gradually resuming in SNEC to pre-COVID-19 levels.
As a new father of a six-month-old daughter, Edward Tan finds it a challenge to work from home (WFH). Ever since COVID-19 hit our shores, his workload has increased tremendously as his team had to keep a significant number of patients abreast of COVID-19 transmission-prevention measures such as deferred appointments.
Due to the spike of COVID-19 cases, Christian S Rimalos is one of the four staff from SNEC who has stepped forward to work as contact tracers since late March, at SGH’s Infection Prevention & Epidemiology Department. When activated, they would conduct a phone interview with suspect or confirmed cases to draw up a detailed list of places the patient was at and people he was with.
Despite not having a medical background, Daren Teo felt the need to help the migrant workers affected by COVID-19. She came forward to volunteer and was put in charge of the Command Centre at a Swab Isolation Facility (SIF).
Being deployed at the migrant worker dormitories as a ‘runner’, Justin Ng, Clinical Research Coordinator with SERI collected swab samples from different dormitories and sent them to laboratories for analysis. Justin had the chance to grow connections with different teams and learn more about the people he was helping.
Though she was too young to volunteer when SARS struck Singapore in 2003, Dr Lim Sing Hui was eager to do so when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The third-year ophthalmology resident at SNEC was stationed at Cassia@Penjuru dormitory to treat migrant workers.
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Mohan has fond memories of his volunteering stint at migrant workers’ dormitories to help manage COVID-19 infections among the residents. With his ability to speak a few Indian languages, it was no surprise that Mohan volunteered to be a translator, since many of the dorm residents hail from India.
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