Opinion: I have seen nurses abused and it must stop
For the past 49 days, my father has been warded at Tan Tock Seng Hospital's ward 10A with Stage 4 cancer.
Each time I visit him, I marvel at the dedication and hard work put in by his nurses.
It makes it even more disappointing to hear that people are shunning healthcare workers as the country deals with the coronavirus.
Nurses have been asked not to use lifts and told to take the stairs and even chased out of trains.
Some have asked ambulance drivers not eat near them over fears they might pass the virus to them.
Our politicians have come out to condemn such disgraceful behaviour and have called on Singaporeans to stand united in our fight against this invisible killer.
I couldn't agree more with them.
The nurses at ward 10A have been nothing but amazing to my father.
Every day, my family and I are taught lessons in humility and selflessness as we watch nurses change his adult diapers.
Who could and would want to do this daily, several times a day?
The nurses can. And do.
And they do this even after being verbally abused.
Once, when I was there, an elderly patient in my father's room scolded a nurse and called her names.
The elderly man, who was very sick, hurled abuse at her.
The nurse remained calm, addressing him as "mister" while tending to him, even asking how he was coping and if he needed to be changed.
His verbal abuse did not stop and yet, she continued asking about him, leaving him only when she was sure he was all right.
On another occasion, a patient in the next room was scolding the medical staff so loudly that my father, who is hard of hearing, could hear him.
The nurses took the verbal volleys in their stride and soldiered on.
My mother, who spends hours by my father's side, said it happens so often she does not know how the nurses can tolerate it.
"It's our job," they tell her smiling.
So, what do the stories of people shunning our healthcare workers say about us as a country? That we are a First World country only in name and have nothing to be proud of if we don't change our selfish behaviour.
Our healthcare workers risk their lives every day, exposing themselves to all kinds of germs and ungrateful patients and their family members.
The last thing they need is people telling them they might be spreading disease and should go somewhere else.
Before the virus appeared here last month, I could see the nurses' faces.
They would always smile and greet my father by name, and in their chirpy voices ask how he was doing.
They still do but I can't see their faces anymore because of the masks.
But I can tell they're still smiling and giving their best every day.
For that, my family, and the families of the other patients in the ward are grateful.
Instead of rejecting our healthcare workers, we should be encouraging them.
If you see them on the streets or on the MRT, give them a thumbs up, smile at them, or hold the door for them.
Say thank you. Cheer them on even.
Send them the message that we appreciate the sacrifices they are making in being away from their families as they work over-time to ensure we get the best medical care possible.
They do this even when they know they could be the next confirmed case.
So, to all nurses, doctors, ambulance personnel and healthcare workers, thank you.