Everyone plays a part to ease healthcare workers’ load

24/02/2022

Covid-19 cases are at an all-time high this week, hitting more than 26,000 cases on Feb 22.

While the surge is expected – both co-chairs of the Multi-ministry Task Force Ong Ye Kung and Lawrence Wong had predicted it – and symptoms are mostly mild, healthcare workers are under pressure to cope with the number of patients seeking medical help.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) even published a note, calling for public assistance, saying: “Hospitals, polyclinics and General Practitioner (GP) clinics are very busy, and healthcare workers are under severe pressure. It may take a few weeks before the transmission wave peaks and subsides.”

On its part, it had already implemented a slew of measures to help ease the load:

  • Ramping up capacity in our hospitals
  • Right-siting patients at COVID-19 Treatment Facilities (CTFs) as much as possible
  • Spreading patient load to private hospitals
  • Allowing residents in nursing homes to recover in-situ
  • Supplementing our healthcare manpower with the SG Healthcare Corps as well as Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) medics
  • Adjusting health protocols to allow more patients to be able to recover at home

To ride out the Omicron wave, everyone plays a part

You should not rush to the hospital emergency department if it’s not an emergency. Emergency department resources are prioritised for those who need it. If you are not an emergency case, you will be directed to other clinics for further assessment, which ultimately is just a waste of time for both parties.

If you have mild or no symptoms but tested positive, you can self-recover at home, under Protocol 2. If you require medical attention, you can visit the GPs. The Straits Times reported on Feb 24 that clinics have extended working hours to cope with the surge. MOH also said that Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs) will operate longer with effect from Feb 25 to Mar 10, 2022.

You can even consult a doctor virtually. Click here to find out the list of telemedicine providers.

Employers should not ask for medical certificates from employees who test positive for Covid-19. Many patients are visiting hospitals, polyclinics and GPs to get an Antigen Rapid Test (ART) conducted by a medical professional and documented in MOH’s records, or to request for a medical certificate. This has added significant pressure on the healthcare workers’ workload.

In fact, Manpower Minister Tan See Leng said on Feb 22 that there’s no need to ask employees down with Covid for a medical certificate.

The government will continue to support healthcare workers.

In a letter addressed to healthcare workers dated Feb 21, Health Minister Ong Ye kung said the ministry and healthcare workers’ management will continue to do their best to support healthcare workers.

Sick leave of healthcare workers can be recorded as hospitalisation leave during this period at the request of the Healthcare Services Employees Union, he added.

“For our healthcare workers, whether Delta or Omicron, I know your workload has been heavy. But MOH and the Multi-Ministry Taskforce will also need to continue to explain to the public that Omicron is less severe than Delta because from the public’s point of view, they need to know that Omicron poses less of a risk. That way, they can respond to the infection wave calmly, recovering from home when their symptoms are mild, instead of rushing to the hospitals,” he wrote.

The MTF also decided to postpone the changes to the existing Covid-19 safe management measures to a later date due to the surge and the extensive work involved in going through the detailed rules across different settings, announced MOH on Feb 24.

Cover photo credit: Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Singapore General Hospital via NUS