A&E volunteer used to hate hospitals

SINGAPORE - He used to fear going to the hospital. But now, he spends most of his free time there. Mr Raphael Nyoe, 23 is a volunteer at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital's (KTPH) Accident & Emergency (A&E) department.

The second-year nursing student from the National University of Singapore spends a day every weekend volunteering at KTPH as a Patient Ambassador for two to four hours. He is one of over 30 volunteers at KTPH who volunteer in various departments.

Ironically, Mr Nyoe hated hospitals when he was young. He was born with a limb length discrepancy and had to be at the hospital often for check-ups and treatment.

The adult Mr Nyoe now wants to ease the pain of other patients - because he understands.

He said: "I know how they feel because when I was younger, I went in and out of hospitals and I always felt anxious and nervous."

Mr Nyoe, who is stationed at the lobby of the Priority 3 (P3) section of the A&E department, helps elderly patients communicate with doctors and nurses.

The P3 section specialises in patients who are mobile, and who usually have less serious injuries.

Mr Nyoe is fluent in dialects and Mandarin and often helps translate conversations between doctors and patients by accompanying the latter on consultations and diagnostic tests.

At times, he handles up to five patients simultaneously.

Odd one out

Mr Nyoe finds his duties fulfilling, although he may be the odd one out among his friends.

He said: "Some of my friends said they would rather go clubbing the day before or spend time with their peers. They view volunteering as a golden-aged activity."

But Mr Nyoe explained: "I rather spend my time fruitfully here, because I can make life better for myself and for others."

He finds satisfaction in knowing that he can help patients and their families in small ways.

Mr Nyoe recalled how a family once entered the A&E department because the father had collapsed. They were weeping and very flustered, he said.

Although he couldn't do much, he tried his best to support them by providing them with cups of water, snacks and chairs.

Mr Nyoe, who was attached to KTPH for his internship for two weeks in May, was impressed by how the hospital focuses on service standards to their patients.

He has been a volunteer there for six months.

A KTPH spokesman said the hospital engages volunteers who are interested in welfare and are passionate about helping the patients and their families.

Volunteers may sign up through an online form on the hospital's website and physical forms from the hospital's information counter.

The spokesman added that the hospital is looking for more volunteers in the A&E department, retail outlets, inpatient mobile library and also to help out in gardening.

Although volunteers are not paid, the hospital recognises them by organising annual events for them.

Nothing stops Mr Nyoe from serving patients - even though sometimes his parents worry it it will affect his grades.

He said: "As long as I can plan my time, it won't affect my grades. I always tell them that there's no good time to volunteer."


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