03 July 2015, Feature
The award recognises healthcare workers who are inspirational role models possessing courage, dedication, selflessness, steadfastness in ethics, compassion and humanity.
We rejoice and celebrate with Dr Chong Poh Heng, Deputy Medical Director at HCA Hospice Care and Programme Director of Star PALS, who has recently been awarded with The Courage Fund’s 2015 Healthcare Humanity Award.
Besides his duties assisting HCA’s medical director in the organisation’s clinical work, Dr Chong founded, and now directs, Star PALS – Singapore’s very first paediatric palliative home care service which aims to improve the quality of life for children with life-limiting conditions.
Under Dr Chong’s leadership, Star PALS has grown from a 2-person team to a 10-person multidisciplinary team comprising doctors, nurses, and social workers that has served 170 young patients and their families over the past 3 years. Dr Chong’s dedication goes beyond his front-line work – he also participates in advocacy efforts such as the paediatric and young adults ACP task force.
Dr Chong’s commitment to achieving this mission for each and every one of his patients and families is what distinguishes him as exemplary. He never fails to go the extra mile, visiting his patients often not just to relieve the physical symptoms of the children, but sometimes simply to assuage concern. He believes that no child should die suffering and actively implements initiatives like respite care to lighten the burden on these families – emotionally, physically, and financially.
“Doing the work we do, we also have to believe in miracles. Faith is believing. Only if you believe will you look at each situation and really put in your all to work towards it,” Dr Chong said.
More than just being a healthcare worker, Dr Chong goes beyond, winning the hearts of many patients and their caregivers through his actions. “Dr Chong genuinely wants to know what we need, and what we think is best for our own family,” a caregiver shared. “He doesn’t lead us, or smother us by telling us what to do. Instead, he walks with us and gently guides us to express what we really want – which is something we don’t always know! Where can you find a doctor like this?”
He has taken on many roles as advisor, confidante, advocate and friend. On several occasions, Dr Chong has played event coordinator, granting the wishes of his patients by organising birthday parties and outings, regardless of the challenges faced. For example, it may have seemed like an impossible wish for a morbidly obese patient relying heavily on life-support machines to visit the panda Kai Kai at the Singapore River Safari, but Dr Chong made it possible by arranging for the necessary equipment and support. Wishes were fulfilled, beautiful memories etched, and joy added into the lives of his patients and their families.
More often than not, he finds himself learning life lessons from the children under his care. These children, he says, often show a resilient strength, with hope for the best of what they have left. “That is where I find richness and continue doing the things I do,” says Dr Chong. He shared an encounter with a patient who worried more about his family’s well-being than his own condition, and asked Dr Chong to take care of his family. Dr Chong could not express in words the emotions this stirred within him.
Once again, congratulations Dr Chong! Your selflessness and genuine care for the patients truly deserve our admiration and respect!
HCA Hospice Care is proud of its dedicated and compassionate clinical team! Do email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any good feedback, or words of encouragement for Dr Chong, or any other of our other staff members.