Since the start of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has precipitated significant challenges and disruption to the lives and livelihoods of many across the globe. Closer to home, colleagues in our SingHealth community have no less been affected. One such member of our community is Kasthuri Naidu, a Senior Staff Nurse at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH).
When the pandemic hit Singapore, healthcare staff had to adapt constantly to the evolving needs and urgencies on the ground. Kasthuri was one of the nurses deployed to another ward to support these operations. As the needs and demands of patients in her new ward differed from her usual ward, Kasthuri had to quickly adapt to the new environment, confronting and overcoming the various day-to-day challenges that arose.
Besides her profession as a nurse, Kasthuri is also a mother to two girls, aged one and five years old. Both daughters are extremely close to her, and at the time when the cross-border travel restrictions between Singapore and Malaysia were announced, she was still nursing her younger child.
Kasthuri, who is Malaysian and whose family resides in Johor Bahru, recalls the chaos and her turmoil on the day of the announcement, “I was very anxious and had to make multiple calls to ascertain if my family could join me in Singapore. I could not bear the thought of leaving my family behind, but nor could I abandon my work in Singapore. It was only in the late evening that I received confirmation that I could bring my family over. It was a rush to prepare and we had to endure a six-hour jam with two young children before we arrived in Singapore safely.” Fortunately, SingHealth and KKH Human Resource colleagues managed to lend a helping hand, providing accommodation so that her family could remain together.
However, due to unforeseen circumstances, Kasthuri’s family had to return to Malaysia two months later. Kasthuri remained to hold the financial fort in Singapore while her husband had to cancel his Singapore work permit to take care of their children in Malaysia. Kasthuri was also unable to continue breastfeeding her daughter. The long period of separation, coupled with numerous uncertainties, cast a shadow of anxiety and pain on Kasthuri. “I would video-call my daughters daily and each time, it hurt, especially when my children cry or look for me. Nevertheless, I want to be strong for my children. They help push me forward in dealing with my challenges.”
Through all the hardships Kasthuri has faced during this period, she stays resilient with the help of her colleagues at KKH. During the times when she feels overwhelmed by the circumstances, her colleagues have been there to be a listening ear and a source of emotional support. She credits her children as the driving force helping her to overcome the challenges, as well as her patients whose lives Kasthuri touches every day at KKH. “One of the patients was moved by my nursing care and sent words of gratitude for me. Receiving such acknowledgements makes me feel honoured to do what I do and it spurs me on to provide better nursing care for my patients. As a nurse, my sense of responsibility in helping people, despite my own difficulties, ensure that I keep moving forward and do even better.”
During these unprecedented times, staff from across the SingHealth cluster have come together to battle COVID-19. In doing so, many of us have had to make personal sacrifices, while others have stepped out of their areas of comfort and expertise to join the fight.
The Resilience in Crisis Fund enables us to build and strengthen the physical and mental wellness of our healthcare professionals, especially during health emergencies. Your contributions will support initiatives that will sustain the extraordinary efforts in the fight at the frontlines during these emergencies.
If you would like to make a gift, or find out more about the fund, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.giving.sg/singhealth-fund/resilience-in-crisis