Skip to main content

Advertisement

Advertisement

SAF personnel, PA volunteers roped in for Covid-19 home recovery scheme amid public frustrations over ‘teething issues’

SINGAPORE — Acknowledging the frustrations of some Covid-19 patients undergoing home recovery, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said that Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) personnel and volunteers from the People’s Association (PA) will be roped in to speed up processes and “progressively clear the backlog” that had been accumulated over the past few days.

SAF personnel, PA volunteers roped in for Covid-19 home recovery scheme amid public frustrations over ‘teething issues’

For Covid-19 patients recovering at home, they will be assigned a “home recovery buddy” and there will also be access to telemedicine providers if they need medical assistance.

  • Singapore Armed Forces personnel and volunteers from the People’s Association will be supporting the Covid-19 home recovery system
  • More telemedicine providers and phone-line operators will also be roped in to ease the strain 
  • Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said the authorities have been joining Telegram chat groups to answer patients’ queries
  • Patients have been unhappy over processes and lack of contact from MOH as they recovered from home


SINGAPORE — Acknowledging the frustrations of some Covid-19 patients undergoing home recovery, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said that Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) personnel and volunteers from the People’s Association (PA) will be roped in to speed up processes and “progressively clear the backlog” that had been accumulated over the past few days. 

Speaking at a press conference by the national Covid-19 task force on Friday (Sept 24), Mr Ong added that the authorities have also been joining Telegram chat groups set up by people on home recovery so as to answer some of their queries. 

These are some of the steps that the authorities will be taking to better assist Covid-19 patients who are on home recovery. 

Some patients have expressed confusion and unhappiness at the lack of communication from the Ministry of Health (MOH) as they recovered from home, saying that they had to wait a few days after getting a positive Covid-19 result before being contacted by the authorities. 

MOH on Thursday said that the Covid-19 home recovery system is “ much strained” due to the recent surge in cases and it has released a set of frequently asked questions to guide patients who are recovering at home. 

Singapore recorded a record high of 1,504 cases on Thursday since the pandemic began early last year.

‘TEETHING ISSUES’ 

In a statement on Friday, MOH said that there had been “service lapses” as the number of patients on home recovery increased, which had “added to (patients’) anxiety”.

“We are ironing out the teething issues with the home recovery programme, and in the coming few weeks, will further ramp up our care facilities to handle more cases.” 

Elaborating on the different measures to help support the home recovery scheme, Mr Ong said that the involvement of SAF has “augmented our resources and capabilities significantly”. 

“We are actively, proactively reaching out to affected individuals, delivering the care packs on request,” he said, referring to the packs containing items such as oximeters to help at-home patients monitor oxygen in their blood.

PA will also be stepping in to provide “community support to the affected families... bearing in mind whatever they do has to be contactless”, he said. 

Resources are also being beefed up by roping in “private sector primary care providers” to provide telemedicine services.

As for the phone lines dedicated to helping patients, the number of operators will be bumped up so that those who “want to have a call and talk to somebody with a query” may do so, Mr Ong said. 

The lack of contact from MOH due to the increasing Covid-19 cases has led some patients to seek answers from Telegram chat groups. One chat, named “SG Quarantine Order Support Group”, already has more than 7,000 members. 

Mr Ong said: “We have joined (the groups), so that we are able to answer your queries and also, at the same time, put out (answers to) many of these common queries and confusion, and (publishing) them through the mass media.” 

“I’m confident that with all this hard work and all the help and support that we are getting… the teething issues will be resolved, as we speak.”

HOME RECOVERY BUDDY, TELEMEDICINE SERVICES

Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, director of medical services at MOH, gave more information on the contact points that are available to patients recovering from home. 

First, there will be a “home recovery buddy” assigned to them, who will be in touch to provide assistance to the patient.

There will also be telemedicine providers and they can be “easily accessed at all hours of the day and night by infected persons who feel unwell and need medical assistance”, he said.

“The telemedicine providers also proactively reach out to the assigned patients several times in the first week to monitor their clinical progress.” 

At any time, if the telemedicine provider assesses that the patient needs more care for their symptoms, there will be arrangements made for the person to be taken to the hospital for further assessment and treatment. 

In the event of a medical emergency, including having “very severe symptoms” such as chest pains and shortness of breath, the patient may also call 995 so that emergency medical services can tend to them quickly. 

Making an appeal for participants to lend weight to the governmental and community efforts, Assoc Prof Mak said: “We welcome more doctors and healthcare workers to volunteer and support our patients, either in the telemedicine service or as home recovery buddies.

“MOH will provide more details soon concerning these schemes.” 

Related topics

Covid-19 coronavirus home recovery telemedicine MOH

Read more of the latest in

Advertisement

Popular

Advertisement

Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.

Aa