50 letters to KK Hospital

Kylie Tan (centre), seven, her siblings Brian (back, with bow tie), 11, and Sarah (far right), six, with their parents Tan Chin Hwee (right) and Michelle Lee (left, in black) and their extended family at yesterday's book launch.
Kylie Tan (centre), seven, her siblings Brian (back, with bow tie), 11, and Sarah (far right), six, with their parents Tan Chin Hwee (right) and Michelle Lee (left, in black) and their extended family at yesterday's book launch.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Book captures milestones in 157-year history of KK Women's and Children's Hospital

When Mr and Mrs Tan Chin Hwee's first daughter was born prematurely at 27 weeks, she weighed just 800g and was too weak to even cry.

But one thing that stood out for the couple during the difficult time was how staff at KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) cared for them and their daughter, Kylie, during that period.

Housewife Michelle Tan, 42, recalled: "Every question we had, they had answers. It was a great load off us, knowing that she was well taken care of."

 

Their experience led them to set up a fund for premature babies in 2009 under the KKH Health Endowment Fund, which helps parents of such babies offset the cost of care. It has helped around 150 people since its inception.

The Tans' tale, along with 49 others, was featured in a new book launched by KKH yesterday.

Dear KKH, Hope In 50 Letters is a collection of letters from 50 people recounting how the hospital has touched their lives.

Kylie, now seven, sang a song at the book launch.

Mr Tan, 44, who works in finance, said: "We wanted to do our part. We thought about other parents who had kids like ours, but who had to worry about their finances as well as their kids."

Apart from hospital staff and patients, the book also includes letters from diplomat Tommy Koh, who is Ambassador-At-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Nominated Member of Parliament Chia Yong Yong.

In her letter, Ms Chia recounted how the hospital has been involved in her life and that of her family - from her own birth to treating her niece's broken elbow.

She wrote: "Ours is a friendship that goes back a long way, and weaves through four generations of women in my family."

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said the book captures many important milestones in KKH's 157-year history, including the times when its doctors changed Singapore's healthcare scene for good.

"One example is veteran paediatrician Professor Phua Kong Boo, (who) made a significant breakthrough in his research trialling the rotavirus vaccine," Mr Gan said.

This subsequently led to a decrease in severe rotavirus gastroenteritis - an intestinal infection that causes diarrhoea and vomiting - among children, he said.

"I hope the 50 stories in this book will be a source of inspiration to the younger generation, to inspire them to have the same passion and resolve as the healthcare pioneers and volunteers described in this book."

The book is being sold for $50, and can be bought at the hospital's Patient Education Centre or independent bookstore Woods in the Books. It can also be bought online via Epigram Books.

All proceeds from the book will go towards the hospital's Health Endowment Fund, which provides financial assistance for the medical needs of disadvantaged patients.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2015, with the headline '50 ways to highlight a hospital's care'. Print Edition | Subscribe