Nurses are hardly celebrated enough for the work they do. They dress wounds, administer medicine, and work round-the-clock to make sure every patient receives adequate care.

In the Covid-19 pandemic, as swelling patient numbers threatened to overwhelm the nation’s healthcare system, nurses have stepped forward to fill gaps. We look into the work of two nurses who have fought bravely on the frontlines: Lee Ann Aquino Carino, Assistant Nurse Clinician at Mount Elizabeth Hospital and Shamini Devi Sambanthan, Senior Staff Nurse at Gleneagles Hospital.

Before the pandemic, Lee Ann looked after cancer patients, while Shamini was stationed at a VIP ward. Both were senior nurses who oversaw the training of new recruits.

This experience with training came in useful for Lee Ann. As infection rates rose, she conducted training on infection control, respirator use and swab test methods.

She also quickly pivoted to support the setting up of a Covid-19 isolation unit in Mount Elizabeth Hospital, and the Singapore EXPO community care centre. The EXPO was converted into an isolation facility in just five days, and housed patients who had tested positive but displayed mild symptoms, national healthtech agency IHiS shared.

Shamini also volunteered to take up a post at the EXPO, where she spent four months caring for Covid-19 patients. “I personally perceived the task as a mission similar to National Service,” she says. “Instead of being anxious, I felt honoured to be part of the team on the frontline during this pandemic.”

“The deployment gave me the opportunity to work with and learn from the other healthcare professionals and specialists from other departments,” Shamini adds. “We all have different roles to play. However, we all share a common goal of giving our best to our patients.”

The work is undoubtedly difficult, but Lee Ann draws strength from seeing the impact of her service. “Witnessing our patients who have been discharged becoming well and fit, along with the lower numbers of admitted Covid-19 positive patients, gives us a greater sense of pride and hope as frontliners,” she says.

A crisis tends to be good at reminding us what’s important. We remember and celebrate the immense courage and selflessness each healthcare worker has brought to the fight against the coronavirus.

Illustrations by Joy Lim