Nurses’ Day

Impressed by Sars 'courage'

Dr Hoi Shu Yin is among the leaders guiding more than 3,600 nurses during the coronavirus pandemic. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE


Chief-nurse designate, Tan Tock Seng Hospital

During the Sars outbreak in 2003, Dr Hoi Shu Yin was a junior nurse in Tan Tock Seng Hospital's Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Like other healthcare workers then, she was worried about her safety as medical staff were getting infected as well.

But when she saw a senior doctor and nurse calmly intubating the ICU's first Sars patient, treating the person like any other patient, it left an impression on her.

"That image was one of courage, calmness and responding to the call of duty," said Dr Hoi, 41.

From being a junior nurse during Singapore's last major infectious disease outbreak, she is now the hospital's chief-nurse designate, one of the leaders guiding more than 3,600 nurses during the pandemic.

She will assume the position of chief nurse in October.

Along with other leaders, she oversaw the conversion of six wards with 230 beds to pandemic wards, and the deployment of over 500 nurses to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID), to beef up manpower at ground zero of the country's battle against the virus.

Said Dr Hoi: "When we started operations at the Covid wards, the leaders donned the personal protective equipment with the nurses, and I remember one of my nurse leaders telling her staff that they are all equal now, and there is no hierarchy as they are in the same uniform."

Dr Hoi also appreciated how the nurses deployed to NCID came up with small solutions to be more efficient in serving patients.

For instance, to ensure safety, they fixed plastic screens to drip stands to create a barrier between patients and medical staff during swab tests.

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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 Impressed by Sars 'courage'. Subscribe