Forum: Health professionals the calm amid the Covid-19 storm

Last week, I felt unwell enough to get myself checked by a healthcare professional. The symptoms reminded me of many past bouts with mycoplasma, so I thought I'd visit my regular clinic, and start taking antibiotics.

When I reached Parkway East Hospital, the walk-in clinic was eerily quiet. The admissions nurse asked for my symptoms: cough, some trouble breathing in the night, itchy throat and phlegm, some fatigue, but no fever.

Within moments, I was directed towards the isolated "high risk" area. Both the triage nurse and then the doctor bombarded me with recent travel and medical history questions.

It was the start of a chain of people I was to encounter - doctors and nurses in biohazard gear, driver, escort, patient service administrators, seat allocators and sanitation crew, among others at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID).

At NCID, there was a cadre of courteous and efficient personnel. The queue to get processed was set up such that patients were always 2m away from one another per the Ministry of Health's guidelines.

Once processed, and wearing a tracking bracelet, I was met by various nurses and doctors, X-ray and electrocardiogram personnel, the apologetic personnel who had to carry out the painful nasal swab over and over again, right down to the final attendant, whose job it is to cut off your bracelet, provide you some hand sanitiser and send you on your way.

Whenever I had the wherewithal to thank one of these brave health professionals in person, they would demurely say: "Oh, that's just my job."

While our supermarkets and social networks have devolved into a hurricane of negativity and despair, I found Singapore's hospitals and screening centres to be the calm eye of the storm.

Yoni Garbourg

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