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"Precious Gems 47"- Patients always First
30 March 2020

Since DORSCON was raised to Orange, I have not had the opportunity to visit any of our patients. I continue to visit our satellite offices distributed island-wide to hear from our teams on the ground. Despite the multitudinous precautionary measures that are continually being updated, our multidisciplinary teams of doctors, nurses and social workers are unfazed. They respond to and implement each measure as and when measures are updated. Their singular goal is to ensure the safety of our patients, their caregivers and fellow colleagues.

While our teams keep up with the precautionary measures, they grapple with issues on the ground. One common issue they encounter is when some beneficiaries do not fully declare their travel history or that their family members are on Stay Home Notice (SHN) although we had asked them over the phone before our visit. Even at their doorsteps, we often fail to get the full declaration when we ask them again. On one occasion, after we had ascertained that it was safe to visit our patient, we entered the home, chatted with our patient, to be caught off-guard when his daughter emerged from the bathroom. When asked if she was on leave, she replied “No, I am on SHN for 14 days”. Fortunately our team had donned the relevant Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Perhaps the family was concerned that our HCA team would not visit if we found out that there was a family member in the household on SHN?

We would like to assure everyone that at HCA, patients always come first. With the correct information from families under our care, we can take appropriate precautionary measures when we visit our patients.

With the added donning of PPE, our teams now take a longer time for each home visit. Coupled with some difficulties with public transportation, we currently manage only two to three patients a day when each nurse could visit five to six previously. Our teams are incredibly concerned and many of them rush from home to home to visit more patients. Donning the additional layer of PPE, including masks, is stifling and humid for our team members. As a result, some of them had taken ill more frequently. Even with the slightest sniffle, dry throats, cough or fever, our team members are instructed to see the doctor. Some ended up with five days of medical leave, stretching our already thin resources even further.

These are just some of the challenges we encounter in the community. Regardless, our teams take it in their stride and continue to do their best. In the coming weeks, we will be issuing every member of our clinical team, a 'dri-fit' T-shirt to alleviate their operational challenges, during this hot season and also with having to don the PPE. I am sure that you will still recognise them, as the T-shirt will be in HCA's signature heliconia pink, with our logo embroidered on the left chest. We hope that you all will continue to welcome them to your homes.

We also seek your understanding that all our doctors, nurses and social workers are doing the best they can for every one of our beneficiaries. During this COVID-19 outbreak, they may not be able to visit our patients in person as frequently as they used to. However, they will continue to be as compassionate, professional and respectful to our beneficiaries. Home hospice roles are no less easy, especially during this difficult period. Kudos to our entire clinical team for their bravery, commitment and dedication!

I take this opportunity to express my appreciation for the many encouraging words and wonderful gestures that you, our friends and supporters, have shown. Thank you!

Take good care and stay safe everyone.