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2,600 medical staff see mainly minor problems so far

  Saturday, 14 l 08 l 2010 Source:  The Straits Times   
By: Lee Hui Chieh

THE doctors and nurses are not under great stress yet.

YOG minor injuriesThey have had to deal mostly with minor ailments like muscle strains, abrasions, coughs and colds in the three days after the Youth Olympic Village’s medical clinic opened on Tuesday. Up to Thursday, 83 people have sought help.

Ms Elaine Gomez, 38, who heads a team of 24 physiotherapists there, said the strains were mainly pre-existing problems aggravated by training and travelling. She expects to see more serious injuries like muscle pulls and sprains once competition begins for the athletes.

Changi General Hospital’s (CGH’s) manager of rehabilitative services said: “They really want to compete, so the stress for us comes from how to treat injuries to get rid of the pain and improve the situation as soon as possible.”

Some 2,600 health-care workers are providing medical support at the clinic, and competition and training venues.

The clinic provides medical and dental services, physiotherapy, counselling and emergency help round-the-clock.

Each sports venue will have at least one medical team – a doctor, two nurses, paramedics and an ambulance. If necessary, patients will be taken to the nearest among four hospitals – CGH, National University Hospital, Singapore General Hospital and Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

About 540 health-care workers and 50 ambulances are deployed in a shift.

School volunteers make up half the health-care team. The rest come from public and private health-care groups, Singapore Armed Forces and non-governmental groups like Singapore Red Cross.

It was a challenge to ensure that everyone could work together despite their diverse backgrounds, said Ang Mo Kio Polyclinic nurse manager Richard Low, 32.

In the last month, everyone came together for four test runs of various scenarios, including resuscitating someone.

Asked if deploying staff for the YOG would disrupt health-care services, Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan, who visited the clinic on Thursday, said: “It does impose a certain burden on our hospitals, as we are actually quite busy.”

But this being the seventh month of the lunar calendar – popularly known as Hungry Ghost Month and believed to be inauspicious – the number of non-urgent surgeries was expected to dip, he noted. Which is why he expects that hospitals will be able to cope.

Hospitals had also planned ahead. Some CGH staff deferred their annual leave, while National Healthcare Group and SingHealth polyclinics allowed fewer employees to take leave during this time. NHG Polyclinics also scaled down non-essential services like health screening.

Mr Khaw said: “To the individuals, there is a certain amount of sacrifice; that is why I appreciate very much all the volunteers.”

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