‘I didn’t want any of my guys to die’: Covid-19 stories of SGH healthcare workers told in new book

SINGAPORE – When he was first told to put together for a new virus from Wuhan in early 2020, Associate Professor Kenneth Tan, then newly minted head of Singapore General Hospital’s (SGH) Department of Emergency Medicine, felt a combination of pleasure and satisfaction.

“We were finally going to show the world what our Emergency Department (ED) was all about. I was going to be the head of department during this pandemic and the ED would do very well,” stated Prof Tan.

But the new coronavirus, or Sars-CoV-2, because it later got here to be recognized, didn’t end up the way in which many believed it might – and neither did the state of affairs on the bottom.

“We didn’t anticipate that the number of tourists who would come in from China to our department would be tremendous, and it overwhelmed our facilities,” he told The Straits Times.

The state of affairs quickly worsened. More individuals turned up, and workers struggled to handle the state of affairs at the same time as their colleagues who handled Singapore’s first affected person on the hospital started to come down with fever and different signs.

“It really was very heartbreaking,” stated Prof Tan on Friday (April 22), recounting the case of a younger, newly married physician who had a excessive fever after seeing the primary affected person.

His is only one of many stories told in Purpose With Passion: Our Covid-19 Stories, a book chronicling the experiences and views of SGH’s healthcare workers throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 10-chapter book was launched by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday at SGH’s Lecture and Formal Dinner 2022, which was held at Shangri-La Singapore.

In the book, Prof Tan recounted: “I referred to as (the younger physician) and he told me, ‘I am very scared. I can’t see my household. I can’t see my spouse, I don’t know what’s happening.’

“I didn’t want any of my guys to die, I wanted them to be safe. There was this dread of losing someone on my watch. If they died, how would I face their family?”

SGH chief govt Kenneth Kwek wrote in the book’s foreword: “The many first-hand accounts in this book speak to our humanity – our fears and anxieties, our despair when it seemed there was no end in sight, as well as the symbiosis of our actions.”

The book was put collectively by an editorial committee led by Professor Tan Ban Hock, senior guide in SGH’s Department of Infectious Diseases, who was additionally the book’s chief editor.

An e-version of the book will be accessed on this website.

In one other account in the book, Associate Professor Phua Ghee Chee, a senior guide in the Department of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, which he headed until April 1 this 12 months, shared the essential roles that each veteran and junior healthcare workers performed throughout the disaster.

“We were never short of volunteers for the isolation wards. It was heartening that the newer generation of clinicians were as dedicated, committed and courageous as their seniors were. I am really proud of the new generation of healthcare workers. The future shines bright,” he stated.

Prof Tan stated: “I feel the book goes to be an important piece of historical past for SGH, additionally about what Singapore went by way of, to share with future generations.

“I think it’s important that the book captures… all these emotions and thoughts and processes, which can be shared with the next generation when they have to tackle the next disease.”

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