When Nursing Comes To You, Photos News & Top Stories

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Healthcare workers took center stage on the last national holiday, with paratroopers from the Red Lions and Republic of Singapore Air Force fighter jets holding aerial demonstrations near hospitals from Singapore.

Salvation was well deserved as workers had been in the trenches to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

While hospital staff have received the most attention, nurses who visit patients’ homes have also played a vital role.

Ms. Hariati Sahak, or Sister Hariati as her clients call her, is a nurse at Thye Hua Kwan Home Care Services.

She looks after patients at home and takes care of those who find it difficult to travel to meet their medical appointments.

Under the care of Sister Hariati, Mr. Chelvan is now able to travel on his own, even taking the bus with his personal mobility aid.
ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Mr. Chelvan enjoying a packet of tea that Sister Hariati bought for him while chatting with her. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

One of these patients is Mr. Panirel Chelvan, 58 years old. He has lived alone in a rented apartment in Bukit Merah for 18 years.

Mr. Chelvan, who uses a wheelchair, suffers from chronic illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes. But the osteomyelitis, or bone infection, of his right hip troubles him the most.


Sister Hariati checking Mr. Chelvan’s blood sugar. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

He had surgery on this hip after an accident in 2008, but had a bone infection after the metal plate implanted as part of the surgery was removed in 2011.

Even now, pus is seeping from the right side of his body.

Ms. Hariati cleans her wound when she visits her every fortnight. She also packs her daily medication – a cocktail of about 20 tablets – in a pill organizer to make it easier for her to take them on time.


Sister Hariati cleans Mr. Chelvan’s wounds when she visits him every fortnight. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Sister Hariati washes her hands thoroughly after cleaning Mr. Chelvan’s hip wound. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

The 53-year-old nurse manager says her patients sometimes forget to take their medication.

She also says some choose their medications, especially patients with chronic illnesses who may have lost motivation to cope with their illnesses.


During her bimonthly visits to Mr. Chelvan, Sister Hariati packs her daily medicines in a pillbox to make it easier for her to take them on time. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Mr. Chelvan affectionately calls Mrs. Hariati “kakak” (elder sister in Malay). She has been taking care of him for nine months.

He finds her very kind and sincere and says that she always asks him if he has eaten. She also buys food and drink from him and pays for them with her own money.

“Missy” is the nickname Ms. Law Bee Neo, a client with dementia, has for Ms. Hariati. It is a colloquial term that elderly patients often use to refer to nurses.


Sister Hariati takes the time to explain to Madam Law why she needs different types of medicine.
ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Sister Hariati chatting with Mrs. Law on one of her visits while showing the dementia patient an old photo of her.
ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

The 83-year-old patient, who lives with her son and daughter in a Queenstown apartment, suffers from chronic conditions such as hypertension and diverticular disease, which involve inflammation of the digestive tract.

In addition to sorting out her medications and checking her blood pressure, blood oxygen and other readings during the bi-monthly visits, Ms. Hariati addresses Ms. Law with words of encouragement.

The nurse speaks several dialects and often jokes with Ms. Law in a mixture of fluent Hokkien and English. While Madame Law is not always consistent, she clearly expressed her affection for Ms. Hariati when she blurted out “I love you” halfway through a random conversation.


Sister Hariati walking with Madame Law. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Sister Hariati holding Madame Law’s hand as they walk. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

They often take short walks when visiting Ms. Hariati so Ms. Law can enjoy the fresh air and exercise.

The pandemic has made the difficult task even more difficult. Ms Hariati, a married mother of three, needs to make sure her patients don’t run out of medicine, as restrictions have made it more difficult for her patients’ children to take their parents for check-ups.


Sister Hariati walks to the elevator lobby after visiting Madame Law in her Queenstown apartment. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Sister Hariati cleans her face during a short break in her car before heading to the next patient. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

She liaises with the polyclinics to ensure that her patients have an adequate supply of drugs. She also often eats her lunch alone in her car because dining in a restaurant is prohibited.

When Singapore celebrates Nurses Day on Sunday, many patients will greet home nurses who have given them a sense of normalcy.

Corrective note: An earlier version of this story misspelled Sister Hariati’s first name. We are sorry for the error.


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