Friday, April 11, 2003

A housekeeping staff here has "probable SARS". She was admitted last night but only revealed to doctors this morning that she worked in the ward where a SARS patient stayed -- the latter is the old lady I saw during my call on March 29th, and who passed away that same night ( read previous entries for more details ). I guess this incident reinforces the importance of astute history-taking. Sure, we're all aware of asking about travel and contact histories from a more general perspective, but there will always be little details that, if inadvertently overlooked, and worse, not volunteered by the patient himself, will result in a delay in isolation and timely transfer to the CDC.

And speaking of poor histories from patients, I'm currently taking care of a woman with persistent pneumonia, and who was recently admitted to a private hospital which housed a SARS patient. I was given information from my superiors regarding the exact ward involved, and asked the patient if she could tell me which unit she stayed in. Her answer: "I can't remember." And when I called her son to ask him the same thing, he said, "I don't think there was a ward number, but she stayed on the 9th floor."
I'm shaking my head as I write this. I was informed of the exact ward number that housed the SARS case, and here we have 2 lucid adults telling me they can't recall such simple facts. Does anyone still wonder why SARS is spreading like wildfire despite all our efforts to contain it?!

And guess what? A SARS patient at the CDC walked out of the centre and disappeared into the night. Yippee.

Tonight's my 2nd time covering the ICU this week. Just tried on the space suit, which is surprisingly light and really cool. There're 2 air filters that we strap around our waists, and the hood has positive air pressure. But I hope I won't have any reason to use it today!!!

A patient's relative personally thanked me today for doing good work during the SARS crisis. There's also been a recent media blitz -- both on radio and television -- paying tribute to doctors and nurses in Singapore, which we appreciate. But... it's rather sad that it takes such a major epidemic and significant rates of morbidity and mortality among medical personnel to garner praise and gratitude from the public. Anyone who's a doctor or nurse will tell you that patients in Singapore are mostly demanding ingrates who complain about the smallest things and leave without ever saying thank-you. Hopefully, this experience will change their attitudes.

Last but not least, Clay's made it through to the next round! Congratulations! :)

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