Not all heroes wear capes

SINCE the Covid-19 pandemic began in the country slightly over a year ago, our frontliners, especially the medical frontliners, have been working tirelessly to treat Covid-19 patients.


Some of them are also facing increasingly long hours and fatigue, besides mounting frustration.


But still, all this is not stopping them from giving their best services to the people.


In Penang also, when the number of Covid-19 cases spikes, the medical frontliners are doing their best to ensure that everything is under control.


For Lam Wah Ee Hospital (LWEH), it has been treating severe acute respiratory infection (Sari) patients since May last year.

Fong Teik Sum, who is in charge of the LWEH Emergency Department, said work could be overwhelming sometimes, especially when the number of patients coming into the hospital does not seem to be abating.

Fong Teik Sum

“Actually, from the beginning when the pandemic started, we didn’t know much about this disease.


“What we know back then was that it was more like SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), something like fever, cough and flu.


“But, as we go on through the months dealing with the pandemic, we get to know more details about the Covid-19 virus itself.


“And our hospital has actually gone through modifications in terms of protocol and standard operating procedures (SOPs), so that we can actually cater for Sari patients who come to us.


“So basically, I would say that we have adjusted very well to a new way of doing things in view of the Covid-19 situation and I am already getting used to it,” said Fong, who has been working at LWEH for eight years.


As for Vasugi Govindasamy, a nurse who is in charge of the Sari ward at LWEH, she is grateful that all of her family members are very supportive of her work.

Vasugi Govindasamy

“My family know that I am working in a Sari ward and they fully support me emotionally and physically.


“Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, I was in charge of medical surgical ward and then when Covid-19 started, I have to take charge of the Sari ward.


“It’s a new experience for me and all of us at the Sari ward, because we know the risk and at the same time we need to learn on how to take care of the patient without getting ourselves infected.


“It was tough at first because we were new to it (handling the Sari patients) but now we are quite well versed with what we are doing compared to our early days.


“I must say that my family is my main motivation to continue with what I am doing.


“Sometimes, it can be a very tiring day in the ward, but as a nurse, we are trained to be strong mentally and emotionally and ready to take up any challenges,” said Vasugi, who has been in the medical field for 31 years.


For Ann Marie Spykerman, a nurse who is in charge of LWEH Infection Control Department, she said the public should be more appreciative of frontliners for their sacrifices in batting the virus.

Ann Marie Spykerman

“The sacrifices from the frontliners to ensure the safety of the public is something that the public should appreciate. They try their level best to curb and control this emerging disease.


“Some of us have to stand under the hot sun while wearing our full personal protective equipment for long hours to attend to patients. It is not easy to do so.


“We are also human and the sad thing is there are some who still take the virus lightly.


“Thus, I would like to urge the public to follow the SOPs because breaking the chain of infection is not easy.


“But still, we as frontliners, have to remain strong because that is what we do and what we have been prepared for since the first wave,” she added.


LWEH consultant respiratory physician Dr Sundira Kumar Namasemayam said the people must not let the sacrifices of the frontliners be in vain.

Dr Sundira Kumar Namasemayam

“If everyone plays his or her part, the number of cases will be brought down and we can have some breathing space.


“After all, many of us also have to sacrifice time with our families and loved ones to deal with the rising number of cases.


“So, please appreciate the frontliners and do your part.


“I also would like to urge the public to register for the vaccine.


“Hopefully in due course with herd immunity in place, the spread of the virus could be contained and probably in years to come, we will get back to our normal life prior to the pandemic,” he added.

Story and pix by Riadz Akmal