Dr Suzanna Sulaiman is the Head ＆ Senior Consultant at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
“I recall the day we entered Dorscon Orange. Additional infection control processes were introduced as the situation continued to evolve. As a leader, I needed to think of ways to support the ground staff and look into processes that would impact both staff and patients, and a dedicated ‘Isolation Team’ roster and system was in place within 24 hours.
Manpower allocation was looked into. This included contingency plans for manpower replacement on short notice if a staff fell ill and had to take five days of mandatory stay-home medical leave. The ultimate goal was always to ensure everybody, including our patients and staff, remains protected.
Understandably, our patients had several concerns. They were worried that they’d contract the virus when visiting the hospital, be in labour alone, have no family support during antenatal visits and labour or that their babies would contract the virus.
We reassured them by wearing our masks throughout and observed all safety measures whilst providing care to them. We reminded them about the precautionary measures that hospitals have in place to ensure their well-being, such as contact tracing, surveys, temperature screening, safe distancing in waiting areas, designated isolation areas for patients who have symptoms or risk factors, and that their safety is our priority. We also made it a point to explain the rationale and necessity of these precautionary measures, and reiterated what we knew from Ministry Of Healthy and Parliamentary Taskforce updates.
Suffice it to say, obstetric patients are more vulnerable, both physically and emotionally. It was understandable for them to feel more anxious during this time and it was important to acknowledge their uncertainties and reassure them. It was also important to emphasise to them the importance of regular antenatal follow-up, with reassurance that the hospital takes all necessary precautionary measures to keep them safe.
It was also crucial that us front-liners looked after ourselves. I had a good team to assist me to look into an achievable roster so as not to hugely impact hospital processes. We emphasised good camaraderie and team work with fair distribution of duties amongst doctors, and looked into welfare packages to ensure staff were well taken care of–like having sufficient food/drinks supply, sufficient rest time between duties and a place to rest during their isolation duties.
What worked was the fact that every staff wanted to be safe; we wanted to protect our patients in all ways and that would include protecting ourselves too. Covid-19 saw the best in many of us as we were determined to work towards a common goal of ensuring that everyone of us stayed safe.”
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