For more than three months, frontline healthcare workers have been grappling with lost time with family members. One of them is Kasthuri Naidu, who hails from Johor Bahru and works as a Senior Staff Nurse at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), Singapore.

She recalls the chaos and her turmoil on the day of the lockdown announcement.

“I was very anxious and had to make multiple calls to ascertain if my family could join me in Singapore. I could not bear the thought of leaving my family behind, nor could I abandon my work here in Singapore. It was only later that evening that I received confirmation that I could bring my family over and we had to endure a six-hour jam with two young children before we arrived in Singapore safely,” said Kasthuri.

Kasthuri with her family

SingHealth and KKH Human Resource colleagues have been lending a helping hand from the first day of the lockdown period. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, Kasthuri’s family had to return to Malaysia two months later. Kasthuri remained to hold the financial fort in Singapore while her husband was forced to cancel his Singapore work permit to take care of their children in Malaysia.

With the ongoing travel restrictions, Kasthuri was also unable to continue breastfeeding her second born. Video calling become her saviour as she calls her daughters on a daily basis. It’s a heart-wrenching moment for her as the daughters cry by calling for their ‘AMMA’.

Through all the hardships Kasthuri has faced during this period, she stays resilient with the help of her colleagues at KKH. During the times when she feels overwhelmed by the circumstances, her colleagues have been there to lend their ears and being a source of emotional support.

The mother of two credits her children as the driving force helping her to overcome the challenges, as well as her patients whose lives Kasthuri touches every day at KKH. Kasthuri says that “one of the patients was moved by my nursing care and sent words of gratitude for me. Receiving such acknowledgments makes me feel honoured to do what I do and it spurs me on to provide better nursing care for my patients.”

As a nurse, my sense of responsibility in helping people, despite my own difficulties, ensurING that I keep moving forward and doING even better.

By now, many people are aware of the role nurses play on the front lines of this pandemic. They’re leading in ways that are really quite similar to their usual work, but during the crisis, visibility and awareness of their work is even higher. Sacrifices such as these have become part and parcel of life for those working on the frontlines in the fight against the highly contagious COVID-19 virus in Singapore.