'My patients are my family': Healthcare worker awarded for going beyond the call of duty

Healthcare assistant Ilandari Deva Nishantha with a patient at Jurong Community Hospital. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

SINGAPORE - Mr Ng, 80, is a dementia patient who suffered a stroke in 2020.

He was depressed and refused to talk to anyone, including his wife and daughter, who visited him daily at Jurong Community Hospital.

Healthcare assistant Ilandari Deva Nishantha made the effort to talk to Mr Ng tenderly whenever he sponged, changed diapers and fed him, and to greet him in Mandarin - Mr Ng's mother tongue.

Mr Nishantha, a Sri Lankan, ended up being the first person Mr Ng spoke to after three months of not communicating with anyone.

It moved Mr Ng's daughter to tears when she witnessed it.

Mr Nishantha, 35, won the Exemplary Service Excellence Award at the Public Sector Transformation Awards 2021 on Friday (July 30). The ceremony was held virtually.

He has been working at Jurong Community Hospital for five years, and has 15 years of healthcare experience under his belt. He moved from Sri Lanka to Singapore in 2006.

Mr Nishantha said he was inspired to pursue a career in healthcare when, as a 15-year-old, he saw how his grandmother, then a nurse, tended to his mother and helped her recover from a fever.

"The way that my grandmother took care of and communicated with my mother really touched my heart," he said.

At Mr Ng's daughter's request, Mr Nishantha visited his former patient at home after he was discharged, as Mr Ng was in low spirits. He did this on his own time, outside work hours.

Going beyond the call of duty, he shaved Mr Ng's face and changed his diapers during visits, teaching the family's helper how to do so as well.

Healthcare assistant Ilandari Deva Nishantha won the Exemplary Service Excellence Award at the Public Sector Transformation Awards 2021. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

Migrant workers hospitalised for Covid-19 also benefited from Mr Nishantha's touch when he was deployed to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital from around May to July in 2020.

"I could sense that they were feeling down physically and mentally," he said.

To make their hospital stay more comfortable, he went to Little India to buy soap for them, as well as other necessities, such as nail clippers, slippers and Tiger Balm.

He paid for these out of his own pocket.

"As a foreigner in Singapore, I really miss my family. When I take care of my patients, it's like looking after my family," Mr Nishantha said.

"I'm really happy to work in Singapore as a healthcare worker, and I'm really thankful to my managers and fellow colleagues for supporting me."

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