Strength Through Adversity

At the dawn of 27 October 2021, Ng Yen Eng, 62, awoke to a slightly more intense ambience than usual. It was not the same as other days – all the doctors and nurses were dressed in full protective personal equipment (PPE) in the ward where he had been receiving care for his traumatic wound over the past two weeks. 

He quietly observed as the care team went from bed to bed to speak with patients. When they reached him, he was informed that a patient in his ward was tested positive for Covid-19. Admittedly worried upon hearing the news, he felt reassured when the team shared the enhanced infection control plans to be put in place.

Yen Eng recounts his brush with COVID-19 as a patient in St Luke’s Hospital where a cluster was formed. Everything happened like clockwork.

[26 Oct, late night] The hospital’s Infection Control team alerted the ward team that a patient’s Covid-19 test came back positive.

[26 Oct, late night] The positive case was immediately isolated in a standalone ward cubicle, and prepped for transfer to an acute hospital.

[27 Oct, morning] The hospital carried out deep cleaning of the affected ward and common areas.

[27 Oct, morning] The ward was under lockdown to prevent any possible cross–transmission. All patients and their caregivers in the affected ward were notified of the situation and infection control plans.

[27 Oct, afternoon] Yen Eng, together with all staff and patients in the ward underwent a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test to check if there were potential transmission.

[28 Oct, morning] Yen Eng received his test results. He was tested positive.

[28 Oct, afternoon] Along with other patients who also tested positive, Yen Eng was transferred to an acute hospital for potential higher care needs and management.

Fortunately, all Yen Eng experienced was some throat discomfort. With medication and rest, he recovered after a week. “I was worried at the start, but the whole experience was less scary than I imagined. I am thankful that I am fully vaccinated, else the symptoms might have been harder to manage.”

After the cluster at SLH was closed, Yen Eng chose to return to St Luke’s Hospital for continued wound care and rehabilitation.

“Covid-19 transmission can happen anywhere,” said Yen Eng. “I’m grateful to our healthcare workers, who are doing their best to protect all patients and staff.”

Now fully recovered from Covid-19, Yen Eng is focusing on his recovery.

“When I am discharged, I will look for a job that is less physically demanding and take things slow till I regain my full mobility and physical strength. No matter what life throws your way, as long as you cope with it constructively and positively, nothing can get you down,” said Yen Eng.

[Photo caption] Ng Yen Eng with Physiotherapy Assistant, Pavithrah S Thambiraja at the St Luke’s Hospital Garden, during his daily physiotherapy session.