Let there be no doubt. Anyone willing to risk his health, and by extension, his life, to help others is a hero.
To be honest, I was a little nervous when I first met Patrick Gan, 44, at the Singapore Expo Community Care Facility, where thousands of COVID-19 patients are housed to this day.
This man puts others before himself to care for individuals infected with COVID-19.
But Patrick is not a healthcare worker. He is one of the 2,100 staff volunteers from Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) helping out at the Community Care Facility.
Patrick is a casino croupier by trade.
In April, RWS was appointed by the Government to be the facility’s managing agent, providing non-medical care and a comfortable environment for the residents to rest and recover.
When Patrick found out about the volunteer opportunity from his supervisors, he rose to the occasion despite having no healthcare experience.
He signed up for the gig armed with the guest relationship skills he picked up in his years working for RWS, and the desire to make a difference.
“When I found about the opportunity, I realised this was one way I could help. I’m honoured to represent RWS, and I’m honoured to be able to contribute to the nation,” said Patrick.
A Typical Volunteer Day
A typical volunteer-day for Patrick starts with a briefing his on roles and responsibilities, as well as the support the medical team needs for the day.
Some volunteers are assigned to do registrations for incoming and outgoing residents; others help to prepare and deliver meals, while the rest act as ushers to bring residents to their respective cubicles.
To do this, Patrick has to put on protective protection equipment (PPE), which consists of a protective suit, goggles, face shield, and a facemask, just to name a few. And in the four-hour shifts volunteers pull, the PPE cannot be taken off.
“It can get hot wearing the PPE because we are totally protected. When I take off my PPE after my shift, I’m always drenched in sweat. Toilet breaks and meal breaks are a no go for those four hours. When we complete our shift, we need to decontaminate ourselves by showering and disposing of the old equipment properly before we step out and head home,” said Patrick.
All volunteers must pay special attention to the decontamination process or else risk bringing the virus out to the public, and into their own homes. Patrick lives with his elderly dad and sister.
“My dad and sister don’t really understand how it is like here. So they are concerned. But I always assure them that there is a proper procedure that we go through to make it safe for the volunteers. I tell them that we shower before we go home. My dad is already 82 years old, so it’s very important that I carefully observe the safety precautions,” explained Patrick.
Hopes for Singapore
He hopes that by the end of the circuit breaker, Singapore would have brought down the infection numbers significantly.
“We are trying our best to help the residents housed here and to make them feel as comfortable as possible. I hope they can go back to their normal lives as soon as possible. I also hope Singaporeans will continue to observe the safety measures. Observe good hygiene habits, observe safe distancing. If we all do our part, we can overcome this challenge,” said Patrick.