I was neither fearful nor surprised when I was deployed to the front lines. As a medical social worker, I know the services we provide for our patients at SingHealth Polyclinics are essential, especially during these trying times. Our sense of responsibility towards those who desperately need our help is the driving factor for my colleagues and I to do our best and not give up, even amidst the pandemic.
That said, the job did not come without its challenges. One of the biggest challenges I faced was handling crisis cases related to domestic violence or suicide when manning the National CARE hotline, which offers support to those who need it during the COVID-19 pandemic. With such time-sensitive cases, substituting our usual face-to-face consultation with counselling over the phone has its difficulties as these cases require swift assessment and decisive intervention. The continuous guidance and support from my supervisors and colleagues, as well as the understanding from my loved ones, was key in overcoming such challenges.
I am grateful that most of my patients are considerate and aware of the limitations we face. I remember a male patient who actually teared up during a counselling session when he thanked us for being there for the community. This incident is etched in my memory as he had never once shed a tear during his sessions, not even when he shared his heart-rending stories. This was also the first time a male patient had become so emotional in my presence.
In addition, it is comforting to know that our clinics have stringent infection control and safe distancing measures to protect patients and staff. For instance, we now have to wear a mask in the clinic, and check our temperature twice a day. I am confident that as long as precautions are taken, there is not much to worry about.
It is understandable for some to fear interacting with healthcare workers during this period. However, having said that, I believe that majority of the general public are appreciative of what we do. My family has also been very encouraging. Though they are concerned about my safety at work, they acknowledged the importance of my job and my duty as a healthcare professional.
I am Medical Social Worker Jae Shi Cheng Zi Jing from SingHealth Polyclinics, and my sense of responsibility towards the community drives me to do my best every day.