​Senior Resident Dr Kennedy Ng leads a team of Medical Officers in Isolation Ward shares why it is a privilege and a call of duty to fight COVID-19 with his team.

The interview was done behind the glass window because the team wanted to protect the writer who was in the “clean” reception area.

Isolation Ward doctors pay tribute to all other staff

“It may seem like we are doing a lot and we are the ones at the frontline, being in the Isolation Ward. But the truth is, a lot of colleagues who are in the “safer” wards, are doing a lot more than us. They have to do the extra work of the people who have been taken out to be deployed to the Isolation Ward,” said Senior Resident Dr Kennedy Ng, who is leading a team of Medical Officers (MOs) in the Isolation Ward.

“In the same way, there are also a lot of people behind the scene that we are appreciative of, like the nurses who are caring for the patients, housekeeping having to clean the place over and over again, security having to man the gantries and prevent unauthorised people from getting in, the porters who transport the specimens from the ward to the laboratory, the laboratory staff who are working night and day to process the specimens expediently.

“This is like a team sport, like a competition; or like a war fighting the enemy where everyone has a different role to play and we do our best for our patients and for our people as one team.”

“If not us, then who?”

Echoed MO Dr Andy Wong who was on his Endocrinology rotation before being sent to Isolation Ward, “Our job scope here is not any more difficult. It is limited because we are seeing a clearly defined group of patients. We knew that there are going be some risks involved, but in the normal wards, there are risks too. We all sign up for this and we are okay to do it. It’s a crisis. If it’s not us, it’s someone else. Someone has to pitch in to help anyway.”

A SARS generation grows up

From left) Senior Resident Dr Kennedy Ng with MOs Andy Wong, Danielle Ho, Pei Yiying, Germaine Loo and Julia Andres

 “When SARS happened, many of us junior doctors were in secondary schools or primary schools. Schools were cancelled, we had e-learning online, many of us enjoyed the “school holidays”, not realising the bliss of protection we had while staying at home, and not understanding the full dangers of SARS as little children,” recalled Senior Resident Dr Kennedy Ng.

“I signed up for Medicine with many people telling me that Medicine has its own problems like long work hours and risk of dying from catching a disease or needle-stick infection. So when Covid-19 happened, suddenly everything became real. It’s something I always knew in my head but now I am actually facing and living it.

“During one ward round during CNY, I asked Prof Simon Ong who was a SARS veteran how it was like 17 years ago. He said it was 100 times scarier because no one knew what was happening; and people were genuinely scared because there were people dying. My colleagues and I could feel the intensity of those times, from his sharing. Yet, without hesitation, he volunteered 17 years ago to work in the fever ward.

When asked why he volunteered despite the risks, Prof Simon Ong shrugged and said, ’it is the call of duty and the right thing to do.’

“For us, it is a privilege and a sense of duty that we are in this together to do our part,” said Dr Kennedy who was doing his specialization in Medical Oncology before he was mobilized to the Isolation Ward.

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