When news of the cyberattack on SingHealth broke, nurses and administrative staff volunteered as hotline operators to help address concerns from patients.
Ng Zheng Yuan, an Assistant Nurse Clinician at SGH, was supposed to be on a one-week paternity leave starting this week – he and his wife had just celebrated their third child's one-month birthday over the weekend. Zheng Yuan is also in the midst of pursuing a Master’s degree at Curtin University and had originally planned to catch up on his coursework during the time. Upon learning of the cyberattack, he did not hesitate to postpone his leave to volunteer to join the hotline team.
“My wife is a nurse in SGH’s Intensive Care Unit and fully understands my decision. We believe that the patients come first,” he said.
On Sunday, 22 July, Zheng Yuan manned one of the hotlines for 12 consecutive hours, from 9:00AM to 9:00PM, with short breaks in between.
“With every call that comes in, we have to verify if the callers are patients who have had their information leaked. After doing so, we proceed to answer each and every one of their queries. Most of them ask what their next course of action should be, and we respond by ensuring them that there is no action required from them, but to stay vigilant and to make a police report if they notice suspicious activities relating to their personal data.”
In preparation for his role, Zheng Yuan received two rounds of training, including familiarisation with frequently asked questions and learning how to use all the necessary equipment at the call centre.
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Another volunteer on the hotline team is Melanie Tan, a Nurse Clinician from NCCS.
Melanie said, “The call centre’s working hours are very different from my usual working hours – I usually work from 8:00AM to 5:00PM, but now have to work from 9:00AM to 9:00PM.”
Despite Melanie’s husband going away on an overseas work trip this week, the couple has made special arrangements to ensure the impact on their children’s day-to-day needs and activities will be minimal. “Even though my working hours are long, my husband and three children are very supportive of me in my work,” she added proudly.
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SingHealth staff from across the cluster worked around the clock to reach out to patients to inform them if they had been affected by the cyberattack. Colleagues turned out in force over the weekend to take on 12-hour shifts at the call centre, respond to emails, fill in missing patient details to facilitate the sending out of letters, and many more worked behind the scenes – all to reassure and calm anxious patients.