Nurses’ Day

A stand-in son or brother

Senior staff nurse Patrick Lin recognises that separation anxiety is an issue that patients and their family members face. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE


Senior staff nurse, Tan Tock Seng Hospital (Nursing Research Unit) - deployed to National Centre for Infectious Diseases' Intensive Care Unit from Feb to June 2020

Cold, white and silent. Patients sedated and hooked up to multiple lifelines. The occasional beeping of machines and call bells.

These are the sights and sounds of a typical intensive care unit (ICU), but senior staff nurse Patrick Lin, 30, does not want to describe his workplace as sombre.

Instead, he recalled his most memorable Covid-19 patient in the ICU of the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID), whom he described as a "cheerful but slightly breathless gentleman".

"We built a rapport very quickly during my shifts. He would talk to me about his job and family.

"Sometimes, I would purposely walk past his room to give him a thumbs up to encourage him, and he would raise his hand at me."

In the middle of his stay at the ICU, the patient's condition deteriorated and he had to be sedated and intubated, said Mr Lin.

But eventually, he became well enough to be transferred to the general ward. "When he was being wheeled out of the ICU, he saw me and said, 'hey thanks'."

Mr Lin was one of more than 500 nurses from Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) deployed to NCID earlier this year. He was posted to the ICU from February to mid-June.

In TTSH, he is part of the Nursing Research Unit, now working on Covid-19-related evidence-based practice and research.

Trained as an ICU nurse, Mr Lin recognises that separation anxiety is an issue that patients and their family members face, as families are not allowed to enter the ICU. This is especially the case for Covid-19 patients in isolation.

He would try to reassure family members when they ring the ICU.

"My biggest fulfilment during my stint at NCID would be having the opportunity to be with my patients in the room during their most vulnerable period, to be their stand-in grandson, son or brother," said Mr Lin.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2020, with the headline A stand-in son or brother. Subscribe