Recently redeployed to do COVID-19 swabbing for migrant workers, Sue Goghari, Manager, Quality and Standards at Parkway College (left picture, foreground) and Yvonne Liang, Senior Staff Nurse, Clinic and Operations Manager at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital's Executive Health Screening (right picture), share their experiences.

How has COVID-19 impacted your job?
Sue: I volunteered to join the swab testing team at Gleneagles Hospital Singapore's Accident & Emergency when I heard that our nursing colleagues were being deployed to carry out COVID-19 testing at several locations. As a nurse myself, I feel for these workers and decided to contribute the little that I can, even if it means exposing myself to the virus.
Yvonne: From premium health screening centre to mobile onsite swabbing clinic at migrant worker dormitories, the biggest change for me is the work environment. As not all locations have adequate space and ventilation, we need to find ways work around it so that safety and quality are not compromised. We also need to change the way we express ourselves to better communicate with the migrant workers. They are often scared and uncertain of what the future entails so we try our best to make them feel assured and comfortable. In spite of the changes, I am still a nurse through and through and that means giving my best to the patients under all circumstances.

What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Sue: I would say dealing with the prolonged adversity, hardship and stress due to the large volume of patients we need to test. Of course, there's always the fear of spreading the virus to my family members. There is no room for complacency; whether at work and after work, I ensure I comply with good infection control practices so I can keep myself and my family safe.
Yvonne: For me, the most difficult part is being separated from my loved ones. My husband works for the Singapore Armed Forces and is often away serving out operational duties during the COVID-19 period. I cannot visit my parents during the circuit breaker period. Many times, I return to an empty home at the end of the day and face my fears alone. My armour is the smile I put on my face when I go to work. That and a positive attitude help me overcome the challenges I face each day.

How do you look after your family and your personal well-being during this time?
Sue: I make time for fun with my family and friends; we do video calls, watch online movies or play online games together. Eating healthy and maintaining a healthy lifestyle are also important. I exercise at home to upkeep my physical and mental well-being. I also find it helpful to learn new things – whether it's a recipe or skill – to gain confidence and a sense of achievement.
Yvonne: I make video calls with my family everyday to find out how they are doing and exchange news and updates. As for myself, I try to maintain a strict diet and set aside time to exercise at home.

What positives have you taken away from this experience?
Sue: COVID-19 has taught us that it's the simplest things that makes the biggest difference - washing your hands frequently, staying home when you are sick, checking your temperature daily etc. We should take this opportunity to collaborate and not blame; only then can we emerge stronger from the pandemic.
Yvonne: I have learnt to appreciate teamwork more, working as One Team, One Dragon Boat with the Parkway Shenton team. Encouragement and helpfulness can go a long way to ease any difficult situation. I am grateful for what I have and I am happy just to be able to work well, live well and enjoy time with my family.