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Sonu Sumit Kumar

"In the ward, I saw mostly migrant workers. Many were from my country of birth - India. So I am able to understand and speak their language well. This helped me foster good rapport and trust with them. Some opened up when I spoke to them in Tamil. They started calling me “Anna” which means brother instead of doctor. This touched my heart.
Every day my team and I would assess their condition to see if any changes had to be made to their management plan, and order any further treatment.

Many of the COVID-19 patients were having sinus tachycardia and were thus deemed unfit to be transferred to a community isolation facility. Their preliminary investigations were normal. After speaking to them, we found that many of them were anxious. They were seeing big hospital wards, staff in PPE, medical devices for blood pressure and saturations for the first time. They thought that they were about to fall very ill and may be not able to recover. They were even afraid to ask about their investigations or management plans.

Though many of the patients were very well with mild symptoms, the fear of COVID-19 was running in their veins and could be seen in their eyes. Their fears were not just due to what they had been reading in the news, but also borne out of a fear for their families’ future. Some of them did not inform their family of their admission worrying that they would be afraid. They would stand in the corner of the room to talk to their families and tell them that they were safe and still in the dorms.

They were also afraid that medical expenses here would be unaffordable; that their wages would stop and push them into financial crisis. Some expressed how they had taken multiple loans back in their country to come here for the good of their families.

Emotional support via video conferencing from our SGH psychologists, as well as news that the Singapore government would cover their treatment expenses helped allay some of their fears and anxieties. We noticed that the tachycardia issues settled, and they were more open and involved in discussions on their management plans.

While the course of the COVID-19 infection can take multiple turns medically, rounding in the COVID-19 ward made me understand that the psychological aspects are very important, too, and should be addressed from the beginning. COVID-19 brings out one’s fear of the unknown. It can be alleviated by taking the time to listen, caring for the individual’s needs, and offering comfort and care beyond medical management.”

It’s more important to know what sort of person has a disease than to know what sort of disease a person has. - Hippocrates

~ Dr Sonu Sumit Kumar, Senior Resident, SGH

Source: SGH Facebook