After news of DORSCON Orange broke on Friday, 7 February, SingHealth institutions began implementing additional precautionary measures to counter the COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) such as setting up visitor screening stations, limiting the number of visitors to wards and outpatient areas and requiring staff to take their temperatures twice daily.

Stepping up

With the swift response of everyone, NHCS was all ready to begin screening patients and visitors immediately, on the Saturday following the news. Not only did the various departments come together at a very short notice to organise and execute the process, staff representatives stepped forward to volunteer their time to help at the screening stations.

screening stations nhcs staff

Staff volunteers and senior management came back during the weekend to set up and kickstart the visitor screening process.

nhcs screening stations

nhcs staff   

The first week of the visitor screening process went by smoothly, thanks to staff volunteers who went above and beyond their usual work scope.
“To ensure that staff volunteers have sufficient rest and operations are not affected, staff are rostered on a weekly basis, with staggered hours each day. Additional manpower are also activated as ‘floaters’ – to cover staff when they go on breaks and lunch,” said Jimmy Sum, Senior Manager, Support Services. Working together with Human Resource, Jimmy oversees the manpower planning of the screening stations, “At each briefing with the staff volunteers, we’ll always remind them that the situation is ever-evolving. Our deployment will depend on the DORSCON level and MOH directives hence everyone needs to be mentally prepared to quickly adapt to new processes when they report for duty.”

Sharing his first healthcare crisis deployment experience, Matthias Tjong from Patient Liaison Service said, “As part of the initial team manning the screening stations, I learnt a lot from this humbling yet satisfying experience working alongside fellow colleagues carrying out the screening measures to safeguard our patients and staff. It was a definite eye-opener."

As we enter into the second week of the visitor screening process, Jimmy shared that more than 40 staff have stepped up to take on duties at the screening stations, and more are expected to do so in the coming weeks should the alert level remain high.

Supporting one another

In a healthcare crisis, all healthcare staff including those at the frontline, play a pivotal role as the first line of defense. It is even more commendable to see our administrative and non-clinical staff joining the fight, so as to allow our medical and nursing teams to focus on the care of patients. In times like this, it is therefore paramount to render support and empathy to one another. Just last week, we witnessed an outpour of warmth, care and concern showered upon each and every staff!

Care packs

care packs    

care packs

Care packs, snacks and drinks served as tiny but mighty perk-me ups to staff volunteers at the screening stations.

Immunity boosters

healthy fruitshealthy fruits distribution   

Each staff received a health booster – not one, but a trio of fruits - to thank everyone who has been working tirelessly to smoothen operations and ensure continuity of services to patients.

Peer Support

At the clinical care areas, nurses have also been spotted, all masked up as they should, but banded and in high spirits nonetheless. As Senior Nurse Manager Jasmine Lee shared – “No matter how the wind blows, the mountain cannot bow to it!” – Indeed the camaraderie and teamwork are visible all around NHCS.

nhcs nurses    
Nurses from Ward 44/47B rallying together in this challenging period.
During this period, with the increased responsibilities and constant changes, some staff could experience stress or burnout, and may require emotional support. The NHCS Peer Support Programme offers a network of trained peer supporters to provide support for colleagues experiencing emotional distress due to work-related issues or of a personal circumstance. 

We have just started the journey to fight the COVID-19 and no one knows when the end is in sight. In what could be a prolonged period of heightened vigilance and security, each staff’s willingness to go the extra mile, will be a determining factor that will tide us through this crisis.

Thank you for rallying together, for we are stronger together!"

This article is from our Stories from the Heart, click here to read more.