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S’porean surprised to be sent to NCID for a cough, shares her experience as a Covid-19 suspected case

“Sure, it is absolutely inconvenient, and completely not what I expected from what I thought was a regular doctor’s visit but this level of alertness and response really puts me at ease that the government and our medical staff are well equipped to contain and handle this #wuhanvirus situation,” said Joyce Chan

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Singapore – A woman who went for a doctor’s visit on Valentine’s Day was surprised to be taken to NCID to have her condition checked thoroughly for the Covid-19 virus.

On February 14, Joyce Chan shared her ordeal on Facebook with a detailed commentary of her experience on her Instagram story. According to Ms Chan, she had been coughing for six months and decided to get a check-up because her condition worsened after Chinese New Year. “My cough aggravated due to the cold weather in Taiwan,” she shared.

It was the type of dry cough that irritates the throat, especially during cold weather. “I decided to visit the doctor to get my medication (cos people stare at you weird when you cough, even with a huge mask on, these days),” shared Ms Chan.

She was immediately put in isolation at a quarantine room when the clinic staff saw her symptoms. “And so begins the Valentine’s Doctor Visit,” wrote Ms Chan on her Instastory.

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The doctor who attended to her at a Raffles Medical clinic was in full personal protective equipment (PPE), she noted, and told her that due to her recent travels, she would likely be sent to the hospital.

When she offered to head on over to the hospital on her own, after freshening up and grabbing a curry puff at home, the doctor said, “No, we’ll call an ambulance and send you direct(ly). You just wait here.”

Ms Chan was transferred to Tan Tock Seng Hospital via ambulance. The patient added how impressed she was with the alertness levels of frontline medical staff. “Sure, it is absolutely inconvenient, and completely not what I expected from what I thought was a regular doctor’s visit but this level of alertness and response really puts me at ease that the government and our medical staff are well equipped to contain and handle this #wuhanvirus situation.”

At the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID), Ms Chan saw that everything was organised with a system in place. “Huge respect for the staff who put themselves at risk day in and out. You guys are the real MVPs,” commended the patient. She mentioned that the medical staff even offered her porridge since she hadn’t eaten breakfast. “Sibeh love sia,” said the appreciative Ms Chan. It might not have been a curry puff, but “porridge also good,” she added.

Photo: FB screengrab/ Joyce Chan

Ms Chan continued by giving a detailed list as to why no one should be worried about a doctor’s visit or being sent to the NCID. She “felt super safe” with all the protocols implemented, which she illustrated:

1. Patients have to stand a certain distance apart when waiting for the next station (demarcated by the red X’s in this photo).

Photo: FB screengrab/ Joyce Chan

2. The medical personnel are well-equipped in full PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for the safety of the patients and themselves. Each patient is also offered a mask.

Photo: FB screengrab/ Joyce Chan

3. Patients sit far apart at individual desks while being assessed and while waiting for the next check (e.g. x-ray, swab, etc.)

Photo: FB screengrab/ Joyce Chan

She said that even if she and a patient seated beside her would spread their arms wide to the side, a nurse could still pass through the aisle with ease. “Throughout the entire process, there is no way I might have physical contact with another patient,” added Ms Chan.

4. Medical professionals come to a patient in mobile stations, so there is no chance for said to be in contact with another surface that a previous patient was on. If there is such a chance for the equipment to be used on another patient (e.g. blood pressure measurement), nurses thoroughly disinfect the equipment before using it on the next patient.

Photo: FB screengrab/ Joyce Chan

5. Each individual seat and table is thoroughly disinfected after the patient is discharged. They have a crew to do just that. The NCID also can deal with more suspect cases in the same orderly manner (there were many more seats available in another sector).

Photo: FB screengrab/ Joyce Chan

After about three and a half hours, Ms Chan was discharged. “I wish they had given me a huge ass sticker to say that I’ve been certified cleared of the virus so that people don’t stare at me weird when I cough though,” she hinted on her story.

On hindsight, Ms Chan shared that while it may seem troublesome to go through such steps for just a cough, it is better to be safe than sorry. “Throughout the visit, I was assured so many times and did not feel panicky at all.”

The staff and medical professionals displayed such efficiency and empathy at the same time, said Ms Chan. “With dedicated medical professionals like them and a really good system and process, I’ve full confidence that Singapore can handle this situation well.”

I visited the doctor this morning for a cough and what happened next was completely unexpected. I was sent straight to…

Posted by Joyce Chan on Thursday, 13 February 2020

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