SINGAPORE - In 2008, Madam Wong Kuan Ying observed as a team of doctors and nurses looked after her relative in the intensive care unit of a hospital over three months. The relative eventually recovered and Madam Wong, a housewife, decided to join these doctors and nurses, inspired by their patience and selflessness.
Despite having only primary school education and a weak command of English, she applied for a job at the Institute of Mental Health, underwent intensive training and even bought a kindergarten-level English assessment book to learn the language.
Madam Wong, who is now 54 and a certified senior healthcare assistant who looks after long-stay male patients with intellectual disabilities, was one of the winners at the annual Healthcare Humanity Awards on Monday.
"I've been through what the patients' families are going through, so I know they really need help," she said. "What's important is that I do my best for my patients," said Madam Wong, who received a honourable mention award, one of the highest accolades.
In all, 62 healthcare professionals were recognised for their contributions to the industry. They include Ms Florence Cheong Wai Fong, head of the department of occupational therapy at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, who developed a skills assessment test for taxi drivers above 70, helping more than 3,800 elderly taxi drivers work beyond the retirement age.
The awards is a legacy of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or Sars, epidemic in 2003, when healthcare staff risked their lives to battle the outbreak and care for infected patients.
"The recipients of the Healthcare Humanity Awards exemplify the values of courage, extraordinary dedication, selflessness, steadfastness in ethics, compassion and humanity in the course of their service," said Madam Kay Kuok, chairman of the board of directors of The Courage Fund, a group of five organisations that gave out the awards.
The fund's patron-in-chief, President Tony Tan Keng Yam, thanked the workers for making a difference. "They are all inspiring role models to fellow healthcare workers in caring for their patients," he said.