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On 11 April 2020, Bright Vision Hospital (BVH) took in its first COVID-19 patient after rapid decantment of pre-existing ones. We take a look at what went on behind the scenes that eventually led BVH to win the Best Team (Merit) Award at the Singapore Health Quality Service Awards (SHQSA) 2021.

The five storey building continues to stand the test of time. Not much has changed to its exterior aside from a new coat of paint, but the once a vibrant community hospital now lays quiet along Lorong Napiri.  

"I remember we had a Dementia patient who would always ask us to buy Chee Chong Fun for her but admitted that she has no money. We would then tease her by replying that since she has no money, no one would sell it to her. The patient would then forget about it and asked again later, countless times per day," shared Yeung Chee Yan, Nurse Clinician, BVH.

That patient, and many others, are a part of the fond memories for staff working in BVH. Once a 317-bed community hospital providing rehabilitation, sub-acute and palliative care to its patients, the hospital stood up to face the COVID-19 pandemic alongside the nation by converting to a hospital isolation facility on 6 April 2020. 

The conversion was completed in just a span of a few days, thanks to the tremendous team effort and extra hours put in by the staff.

"It was an extremely hectic period, but we all knew that it was duty's call and we were glad that we were able to contribute to the nation's need for more manpower and care facilities to look after these COVID-19 patients," added Chee Yan.

It was the courage and grit displayed by the team at BVH that won them the Best Team (Merit) Award at the Singapore Health Quality Service Awards 2021.

The Greatest Challenge
When news of the conversion went out, the care team at BVH immediately began to express their concerns for their patients' wellbeing. 

"The plan was to transfer existing patients seamlessly for them to continue receiving medical care with ease of mind," shared Associate Professor Lee Kheng Hock, Director, Medical, BVH.

Regardless of the apprehension, everyone started to give their best to transfer patients to the neighbouring community hospitals such as Ang Mo Kio - Thye Hua Kwan (AMK-THK) and Sengkang Community Hospital (SKCH). 

The toughest part was saying goodbye, especially to those patients who have been receiving long term care at BVH. 

Most patients had developed a close bond with the staff at BVH and were saddened with the transfer. For Chee Yan, the saddest moment was when she had to share the news with her patients. 

"When the conversion came along, we had to inform our patients and caregivers on the relocation. She was eventually transferred to Ang Mo Kio - Thye Hua Kwan, and we no longer were asked to buy Chee Cheong Fun," said Chee Yan.

In order to make this parting easier, the BVH care team worked closely with their counterparts to ensure patients could adapt well into their new environment. They even had a plan to keep in touch with the caregivers in order to help them ease the burden of caring for the patients in the new environment.

"No matter how difficult the farewell was, we know we did it for a good reason," said Prof Lee.

Best Team Award (Merit)
Organised by SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre, the SHQSA honors and celebrates the exemplary efforts of healthcare professionals in improving patient experience.

This year, the award featured a Special Edition Awards – Celebration of Unity in the fight against COVID-19 for healthcare professionals and partners who contributed significantly in the nation's fight against the pandemic.

450 SingHealth Community Hospitals (SCH) staff were among the winners who received the Hero Award besides the Best Team Award (Merit) won by BVH.

"Everyone at SCH is a winner no matter your role. It was a team effort to care for the patients, and we should be proud of that," said Prof Lee.

And when it comes to providing a good patient experience, Prof Lee advised that it should be a calling or a second nature to all healthcare professionals. 

Other than focusing on the health aspects, staff should also forge a strong relationship with our patients. Communication is part of a good patient experience in addition to compassion and encouragement. 

All it takes is a smile or some kind words to make it a good experience for everyone.