Healthcare workers who went beyond call of duty

Among those who received awards from President Tony Tan Keng Yam were staff nurse Ms Wong Li Wai (left), who tended to Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, and Dr Lim Chin Siah (second from right), who volunteered with Medecins Sans Frontieres in Afghanis
Among those who received awards from President Tony Tan Keng Yam were staff nurse Ms Wong Li Wai (left), who tended to Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, and Dr Lim Chin Siah (second from right), who volunteered with Medecins Sans Frontieres in Afghanistan. PHOTO: DIOS VONCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

One cut his teeth in wartime emergency rooms, while the other tended to Ebola victims in Sierra Leone during the 2014 outbreak.

Dr Lim Chin Siah, 36, and Ms Wong Li Wai, 39, were among 101 healthcare workers honoured at yesterday's 13th annual Healthcare Humanity Awards (HHA) for going beyond the call of duty to help others in Singapore and around the world.

Dr Lim, a consultant at Singapore General Hospital's emergency department who volunteers with humanitarian non-governmental organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres, recalled treating patients in Afghanistan as bombs exploded outside the hospital compound.

Ms Wong, a former Outward Bound Singapore instructor who switched to nursing, recalled her introduction to Ebola: "When I first arrived in the country (Sierra Leone), I could feel that... I was right in the middle of an international crisis. That was a defining moment."

The awards were presented by President Tony Tan Keng Yam at Ci Yuan Community Club in Hougang. HHA is administered under The Courage Fund, set up in 2003 in the wake of the Sars crisis to aid victims and healthcare workers.

Since its inception in 2004, HHA has recognised 756 people for their contributions. This year saw a record number of awardees, who each received a medallion and up to $2,000.

Three out of the five award categories this year are new, and recognise those who do not practise healthcare as a profession.

Mr Lee Soon Hong, who heads the volunteer group IMHope at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), received his award under the new Volunteers category.

The third-year Nanyang Technological University medical student spends Saturday afternoons at IMH organising activities for patients.

He hopes to reduce people's stigma against mental illness. "When I started volunteering I was also a bit apprehensive, but they (patients) are not what people think they are," he said.

Madam Kay Kuok, chairman of the fund's board of directors, said that the award winners "have each in their own special way touched the lives of those whom they serve".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 07, 2016, with the headline 'Healthcare workers who went beyond call of duty'. Print Edition | Subscribe