Every day, thousands of doctors, nurses and support staff working at medical institutions in Singapore put on their uniforms and head to work, ready to face off against an enemy that has already cost the lives of 3.5 million people globally.
The battle for them it seems, starts well before they get to work. On the train, some medical professionals in uniform have reported that other passengers, upon noticing them, would move away from them or would tighten their masks. Since last year, there have been reports of nurses being asked not to enter the lift and to take the stairs instead.
There have also been reports of landlords asking nurses to move out of their rental residences on short notice. Still, the recent incident of the Punggol HDB couple harassing their neighbours – a nurse and his wife – by allegedly spraying disinfectant at their house and hurling insults such as “virus family” and “COVID spreader” was a new low.
It is unfathomable how anyone can be as insensitive as this towards our medical service professionals, who are putting their lives on the line for the sakes of the rest of us. For these are the people who should be cherished as the best of us.
Of course, the indecorous actions of a minority of Singaporeans should not be used to draw generalisations of Singaporeans as a whole. These actions are however illustrative of the deep-seated self-centredness that exists among some Singaporeans and it needs to be called out and highlighted in the sternest of ways.
The one good thing in all of this could be that it has put focus on the welfare and interests of our medical service practitioners. It should galvanise us to develop a deeper sense of appreciation and gratitude for them.
The fact is, our medical professionals and in particular our nurses, have always been the paragons of patience, graciousness, and compassion. Dealing with demanding patients, being at their beck and call in the wee hours of the night, providing nursing care to the elderly – providing medical care is not easy. In fact, it is a vocation that many Singaporeans shun, if you haven’t noticed – a considerable proportion of the nurses at our hospitals – as much as half perhaps, it seems – are foreign talents.
Nevertheless, wherever they hail from, let us take this opportunity to honour them.
But can we go further to show our appreciation?
- Can our Indian restaurants offer discounts on meals to members of the medical profession? (Not that they need the money, but as a gesture of gratitude.)
- Can 1 August (Nurses Day in Singapore) be celebrated with greater aplomb this year and in the years to come?
- Or simply remembering to thank every one who has served you during a visit to a medical institution.
The least that we can do is to treat them with the same warmth and respect that they are so generous with when we are in need of medical care.
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