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Not Just on the Surface

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From using diapers and scarves to cover the neck, to placing tea leaves under a patient’s bed to mask the smells, Bright Vision Hospital’s wound nurse Sister Liew Lee Fong teaches us a thing or two about caring from the heart.

Nurses at Bright Vision Hospital (BVH) look after both the body and soul of patients who receive an extended period of stay after their transfer from a general hospital or nursing home.

With more than 15 years of nursing experience, Sister Liew Lee Fong takes a special interest in her patients’ wounds. As the only wound care nurse in BVH, she helps to assess, treat and care for patients with simple or complex wounds.

Because wounds need frequent attention, Sister Liew will also help to educate patients and their loved ones on how to clean and dress a wound, as well as what to look out for in order to prevent any complications.

“Most of our patients are elderly, who tend to have low immune systems and red blood cell levels that are dynamically unstable. Some of them also suffer from low blood pressure or are sometimes anaemic,” explained Sister Liew. “This is why wound nurses need to work with other healthcare professionals such as dietitians to make sure the patient has enough nutrients so that the wound does not deteriorate.”

Her vast experience has also taught her that wound care is an area that requires lots of teamwork involving nurses, doctors, dietitians and even therapists to ensure patients are well taken care of. Networking with other healthcare institutions is also very important.


In addition, therapists will advise their patients on the suitable positions to be when they are resting or moving around.


WOUND CARE FOR PALLIATIVE PATIENTS
Palliative patients will need support physically and psychologically for their quality of life.

For this, Sister Liew works with the BVH rehabilitation team to provide for patients’ social well-being with activities like playing mahjong with other patients or going for refreshing trips outside of the hospital.

To ensure that patients receive the best comfort during these activities, Sister Liew and the rehab team do what they can so that patients can be active and enjoy themselves.

“The challenge comes when patients have tumors on obvious areas such as the cheek, face or neck. They can be embarrassed because of how they look and the unpleasant odour that exudes from the wound,” shared Sister Liew.


She once had a patient with a tumor on his neck and was unable to turn his head. Due to its size, the nurses decided to use baby diapers and a scarf to cover it so that the patient will still be able to enjoy his life outside the ward.

To reduce the odour, Sister Liew and her team placed an antibiotic powder in between the gauze. They even placed green tea leaves under his bed.

“We have to be innovative and think out of the box when attending to such wounds,” she said.


A JOURNEY IN WOUND CARE
Sister Liew started caring for chronically ill patients on a part-time basis in 2005 before venturing into rehab and sub-acute wards and eventually specialising in wound care at BVH in 2012.

During her many years of work, Sister Liew encountered numerous patients who suffered from pressure injury wounds. Those experiences built up her skills and interest in wound care.


“I get to know my patients first even before they are being transferred to BVH,” she said.


Essentially, wound care nurses will need to do their homework well so that they are able to communicate and care for their patients – understanding the patient and their care, being constantly updated on the latest wound care products, attending conferences to keep abreast of the latest news, as well as having a good network of healthcare colleagues.


Although the healing process for her patients may be extensive (some as long as six years), it does not stop Sister Liew from loving her job.


“You can see the progress of the wound healing, which can be fulfilling!” shared Sister Liew.


​Tips on Wound Care

1. Ensure that you have sufficient knowledge about the wound.

2. Nutrition is very important when it comes to wound care. Approach dietitians to ask on how to improve the
     nutrition hydration.

3. Be mindful of blood glucose and diet.

4. Reduce or avoid smoking.

5. Have emergency contacts ready at all times.

6. Visit the doctor on time and regularly as a follow up.