Retired nurse tends to health-care needs of seniors

Madam Yeo Chwee Fong, 70, a retired nurse who still volunteers with the People's Association's Paya Lebar Wellness Programme.
PHOTO: Retired nurse tends to health-care needs of seniors

Madam Yeo Chwee Fong spent 36 years as a nurse in hospitals all over Singapore.

But despite retiring 14 years ago, the 70-year-old is still conducting health screenings and dispensing useful advice on nutrition and health care.

The difference: The "patients" are her fellow residents, who affectionately call her "Missy" and banter with her in Mandarin, dialect and Malay.

She started volunteering at the Paya Lebar Wellness Centre in 2008, when the People's Association launched a wellness programme to encourage seniors aged 50 and above to stay active and adopt healthy lifestyles.

On Friday, the Public Service will honour her and four others with the PS21 Star Customer Award. It recognises members of the public who have contributed significantly in the delivery of public services.

Some 172 public officers and government agencies will also be getting awards from Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean at the ceremony, a highlight of Public Service Week, which starts today.

Director (services) of the Public Service Division's PS21 office Tay Choon Hong told The Straits Times that the Star Customer Award recipients actively contributed their local knowledge, valuable time and rich experience to help agencies improve their services. These can be delivered more effectively if the Public Service works in close partnership with the people it serves, he added.

In Madam Yeo's case, her neighbours are comfortable enough with her that they ask her questions they may not dare to pose to doctors in health-care institutions, such as how to interpret lab results.

"I've accumulated so much experience. What's the point of just keeping it? I can share, I can help out," she said.

Among the four other recipients of the Star Customer Award is Madam Saniah Rasban, 53, the resident superhero of Chong Pang.

Trained in first aid and a member of the Citizens on Patrol programme, the grandmother of three has nabbed thieves, put out a fire and helped accident victims on several occasions.

Assistant director of the Singapore Police Force's service delivery department Shunmugam Krishnaraju said her commitment illustrates the adage that "it takes two hands to clap".

"This is especially so in law enforcement as we need the public to be our eyes and ears on the ground," he said.

Public Service Week will be marked by some 139,000 public officers, with agencies holding observance ceremonies. President Tony Tan Keng Yam will host some 650 officers to tea at the Istana on Thursday.

This article was published on May 19 in The Straits Times.

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