Residing in the bustling city of Hong Kong with her husband, Joyce Gwee received a video call from Nurse Manager Emily Ng on a Sunday morning, bearing news about her father’s rapidly deteriorating condition.
That call became a turning point, prompting Joyce to make an immediate decision – she would fly back to Singapore that very night to be by her father’s side.
With a tearful wave, Joyce whispered, “爸, wait for me, I’m coming home.”
Mr Gwee Kim Tee, diagnosed with late-stage cancer, was given a prognosis of less than three months to live. His family had collectively decided to transfer him to St Luke’s Hospital, where he would receive dedicated palliative care during his final days.
Noticing Mr Gwee’s diminishing appetite for the ward’s meals due to his restricted diet, Patient Service Associate Fong Yoke Yin, affectionately known as “Aunty” by Joyce, went above and beyond to cater to his needs by buying him the food he loved, hoping to bring some comfort to his days. Similarly, Senior Staff Nurse Julie Yeo’s heartwarming gesture of purchasing his favourite popsicles allowed him to reminisce about his childhood moments of delights.
During this challenging time, Medical Social Worker Leong Si Jie was a pillar of support for Joyce. She offered a compassionate ear, providing solace and guidance during their heartfelt calls. She made it a point to visit Mr Gwee’s bedside whenever her schedule allowed, making him feel cherished and valued throughout his stay.
Emily, the former Nurse Manager of the Palliative ward, would often visit Mr Gwee even after her transfer to lead another ward. Despite her busy schedule, she made sure to visit Mr Gwee, bringing him solace and companionship in his final days.
The last video call initiated by Emily turned out to be a bittersweet farewell for Joyce. “He gave me a reassuring hand sign, telling me he’s okay, and waved goodbye,” Joyce recalled the last moments when she saw her father conscious.
“Throughout his three-month stay, my father never once mentioned missing home. He felt so loved and comforted by the entire team. I’m forever grateful that I had the chance for one last goodbye. The team’s sincerity shone through in individuals who are lion-hearted and imbued with humanity.”
Palliative care is one of the core areas of care provided by St Luke’s Hospital. This year, SLH will be organising a Charity Dinner themed “Celebrating Silver – Circle of Life” on 15 September 2023. The event aims to raise awareness and underscore the importance of holistic palliative care and support in maintaining the quality of life for patients at the end-of-life.
♡ To donate or find out more, please visit slh.org.sg/gosilver/circle-of-life/