When she first heard about the cases of Covid-19 infection in the migrant workers’ dormitories, worrying thoughts came to her mind, and Mary wanted very much to do something to help.
Mary Ang, Senior Patient Service Associate Executive from Cardiac Clinics (centre, wearing glasses), is a staff volunteer at the migrant worker dormitory.
When she first heard about the cases of Covid-19 infection in the migrant workers’ dormitories, worrying thoughts came to her mind, and she wanted very much to do something to help. That was why Mary Ang, Senior Patient Service Associate Executive from the Cardiac Clinics stepped forward without hesitation when there were calls for volunteers to support the operations at the dormitories. She is currently part of the mobile medical team (MMT) which aids in screening and swab testing migrant workers at various dormitories.
Adapting to a different work environment
The day starts early for the volunteers who work five days a week including weekends, “Each morning we assemble in SGH at 7am for a briefing before heading to the dormitories to begin the day’s work. My role is to help with registration of the workers and to measure their blood pressure and temperature.”
All smiles behind their masks as the volunteers set off for their day’s work at the dormitories.
Registration and measurements of the workers’ blood pressure and temperature before the workers are seen at next care touchpoint.
Consultation done at a bench’s length away.
“We had to quickly orientate ourselves to the unfamiliar, hot and dusty surroundings and get down to work including setting up an efficient workflow from screening, manual registration, triage, consultation, pharmacy to swab testing ,” said another volunteer, Tan Hwee Thiang, Senior Manager and Principal Nuclear Medicine Technologist from Nuclear Cardiac Imaging.
Tasks such as registration, a seemingly simple task is not so straightforward in this environment which is starkly different from the patient care setting, and identification of each worker is not easy when it comes to those with long and foreign names. Hwee Thiang added that everyone plays an important role in this ‘assembly line’ to ensure speed and accuracy in care processes and adherence to safety measures.
“Wearing the PPE under sweltering weather conditions is something I have never experienced before,” Mary said. “Despite the discomfort, all of us understand that our PPE is important in ensuring our safety.” All volunteers are required to be in full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
A worker being swab tested by doctors on-site.
Transcending language barriers
Sweat aside, our volunteers are also working hard to overcome language barriers while caring for our migrant workers. Senior Cardiac Technologist, Shamsunnisah D/O Mohamed Khan from Cardiac Laboratory who helped at Home Stay Lodge at Kaki Bukit, a dormitory with mainly Indian workers, had put her language skills - Tamil, Malay, Malayalam and even simple Mandarin to good use, helping with translation at various touch points such as registration to medication dispensing, “Some of the workers were nervous but hearing us speak and explain in Tamil, they felt more assured.”
Stationed at Jurong Penjuru dormitory, Mary has been communicating with the workers in simple English and using body language and gestures, “They are cooperative with our procedures, and we can sense that they are thankful to our medical team. I am really touched by their gratitude towards us.”
Commitment outweighing apprehension
Shamsunnisah who initially contemplated about the volunteering, shared that her mother inspired her to cast her fears and volunteer for this task, “Even though I could only help for a week, I hoped to ease the burden of fellow healthcare colleagues and at the same time, help these workers in a small way for all that they have done for our nation.”
Senior Cardiac Technologist, Shamsunnisah D/O Mohamed Khan (third from left) with the rest of the MMT members at Home Stay Lodge at Kaki Bukit.
As for Mary, she shared that while some of her colleagues were concerned for her safety when they first knew of her decision to volunteer, “Some asked that I don’t go. But as a team leader, I felt that it was important for me to understand the operations on the ground and offer my help where possible. Thankfully, I received support from other colleagues and my family.”
Mary is currently into her eighth week of duties and continues to contribute to the operations. She hopes that she can inspire her team mates to help out as well. “If anyone wishes to volunteer, I am happy to share my experience.” – Last we heard, Mary’s volunteer experience has piqued her colleagues’ interest in rendering their assistance. Thank you volunteers, with everyone’s help, we can weather this storm together!