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I have only been working at SGH for a little over a year, and this is my first official job in healthcare. As a relative 'new bird', I have been fortunate enough that my role in the Communications Department gives me many opportunities to meet regularly with doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, lab technicians and others, as I facilitated media interviews. After a while, the sheen and lustre of their accomplishments faded a little for me.
Then I was tasked to facilitate the filming of two documentaries to be aired on Channel News Asia.
Award-winning production studio MAKE Waves, had contacted the hospital in March 2020, with the idea of producing two 1-hour long documentaries. These episodes would air in 2021, when SGH celebrates its bicentenary. One would be on the SGH Burn Centre and Megan Loy's treatment and recovery; the other about SGH sending an emergency response team to Nepal to provide aid to the survivors of the 2015 earthquake.
Megan Loy gave a vivid account of what had happened to her, and what she had to endure during her recovery at the SGH Burn Centre.
I approached the project like any other media request: discuss with the producer on what questions they need answered, find a relevant expert, seek the necessary approvals, oversee the interviews and subsequent filming of additional footage… the end. In my mind, it should be a straightforward piece that would be done in a maximum of 8 weeks.
It turned out to be anything but straightforward. Not only were there multiple research calls and interviews to determine who would be suitable to go on-camera, there were also multiple internal and external stakeholders involved – the Taiwan episode involved interviews with a burns victim now living in the USA, and the Nepal episode required coordinating with the Singapore Armed Forces and the air force to film.
Passion on display
As the studio interviews and the on-location filming took place, what stood out for me was the drive and dedication on display from all our staff involved. For me, the passion was most evident from the team at the Burn Centre. From the accounts given by Dr Chew Khong Yik, Prof Tan Bien Keem (the surgeons who performed the multiple surgeries to save Megan's life), Er Wei Xiang (Megan's physiotherapist), Senior Nurse Manager Eva Yap (she and her team took care of Megan when she was recovering in the SGH Burns Ward), and Dr Alvin Chua (Skin Bank Assistant Director). Every single one of them vividly remembered Megan and how close they were to losing her, only to pull her back from the brink to make a full recovery. The palpable sense of satisfaction in knowing that they had done all they could and had managed to save her life – that sense of pride made each of them glow as they gave their personal interviews. It was heart-warming to witness.
The SGH Emergency Response Team's pride in their achievements in Nepal was equally on display. From something as simple as a single smile when recalling a memory from their mission, to shooting off key facts without missing a beat, I could tell that even after six years, the memories were still fresh in their minds, serving as a vivid reminder for them to always do more and to do better.
The CNA crew re-enacting scenes to show the SGH Disaster Response team providing medical care at a mobile clinic in Nepal.
It is difficult to put into words just exactly how I felt while on set, but through their eyes and their accounts, I slowly understood what it meant to aspire for excellence in whatever you do. These are everyday people, who had dedicated their careers to learn deep skills and used them to help others in their greatest time of need, and that really drove home this point: duty for others above duty for self.
As I wrapped up the shoot, I too felt that tinge of pride, knowing that I had done all I could to do their stories justice and helped to tell them in the best way that I could.
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