Since the start of May, Senior Staff Nurse (SSN) Nor Syamsul Nazly Bin Mohamed Said from Ward 44 (above), has been calling Hall 7, his second home.


In April, Singapore EXPO and MAX Atria were transformed into a Community Care Facility (CCF@EXPO) to house two types of patients – recovering patients and those who are generally well but needs to be monitored over a period. On 7 May, SingHealth took over the management of Halls 7 to 10 housing our migrant workers population.

Over the course of his deployment, SSN Syamsul has gained more than he had expected and found his skills in critical care nursing being put to good use.

He shares his experience with us.

What prompted you to volunteer?

There were several news reports about the evolving COVID-19 situation earlier this year and how it had impacted the healthcare workers overseas. I was saddened that many healthcare workers had lost their lives in the line of duty, and felt the need to step up and volunteer my service. Shortly, the opportunity to work at EXPO came up and I signed up immediately.

What are your duties at CCF@EXPO?

I started my journey at the sick-bay, a clinic where residents would visit when they felt unwell. As I gained more experience on the ground, I was subsequently assigned to lead Hall 7. There, my duties include coordinating the admission of migrant workers, and being the resource person to both staff and residents of the hall. Through these, I had the chance to work with colleagues from other SingHealth institutions – nurses, doctors, allied health staff, locums and many more – the sense of camaraderie was fantastic.

At the sick bay, some of the duties SSN Syamsul had to do included setting up the system to enter patient’s information (left) as well as conducting daily checks of the E-trolley (right).
What were some of the challenges you encountered?

Most of the migrant workers spoke in their mother tongues which made communication quite challenging initially. We had to make sure that we understood their requests and complaints by using simple English and lots of gesturing. It is also a safety requirement to don full PPE while at work, which can be uncomfortable. Fortunately, there are scheduled and frequent break times that allow us to get some ‘breather’.

(L-R): SSN Syamsul (extreme right) conducts a briefing before volunteers gown up to go about their duties; Doing his buddy check with another volunteer to ensure their PPE is properly donned before entering the hall; Thoroughly checking the equipment required for his admission duties.
Moments to remember?

While at the sick bay, I met a resident (migrant worker) who complained of insomnia and heart palpitations. While checking his ECG, I noticed abnormalities and arranged to transfer him immediately to the hospital for further management. I remember thinking at that point that I was truly grateful for all of the training I have had in critical care nursing!

There was another resident who came in without bringing any extra clothing. Together with the managing agent’s help, we managed to provide extra sets of clothing for his stay at CCF@EXPO. We were not aware that such as simple gesture actually meant a lot to him. On the day of his discharge, he came to me, and said thank you – it was a very heartwarming moment.

What do you think has been your greatest gain from this experience?

I learnt to handle an evolving situation and make changes speedily. Volunteering at CCF@EXPO has also enabled me to put my years of nursing experience into good use and do my part for our country during this pandemic.

Taking five with fellow NHCS volunteers (L-R: SN Muhammad Hafiz Bin Zahari, Ward 56; ANC Lim Choon Chai, Ward 44-CCU; SEN Kamimah Binti Hussien, Ward 56; EN Nurul Natasha Binte Rossian, Ward 56; and SSN Nor Syamsul).
As one of many staff deployed out of our institutions, we are physically apart from the rest of our colleagues but never felt far. We have a dedicated group chat set up for all deployed Nursing staff, where we have been constantly communicating and updating our sisters on various matters. They in turn, kept reminding us to have our meals on time, asked if we could cope with the workload and to wear our PPE properly!

My heartfelt gratitude goes to Ms Amy Tay, our Chief Nurse and the rest of our nursing leaders at NHCS for supporting us throughout this once in a lifetime opportunity.