BEFORE she started working as a nurse at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) seven years ago, the fresh graduate from Nanyang Polytechnic was easily trilingual – in English, Mandarin and her dialect, Hokkien.
But Miss Peggy Oh soon realised this was not enough – if she wanted to connect with elderly patients.
Now a senior staff nurse, the 26-year-old diligently picked up colloquial Cantonese and Teochew phrases from friends and colleagues.
“By just taking the initiative to converse with the elderly in their dialects, you get what they’re trying to say,” she said.
For her dedication, she, along with 60 other recipients of the Healthcare Humanity Awards, was recognised for her exemplary service at a ceremony yesterday. Winners received a silver medallion and $1,500 cash each.
First given out in 2004, the awards are disbursed from the Courage Fund which was set up by the National Healthcare Group, Singapore Health Services, Singapore Medical Association, Singapore Nurses Association and Singapore Press Holdings.
Miss Oh’s motivation to better understand the elderly has even led her to take an advanced diploma in gerontology, the study of ageing.
“She has gone the extra mile. She’s always very cheerful and has a smile (on), even in the presence of difficult patients,” said Ms Leong Yoke Yin, the deputy director of nursing service at TTSH, who nominated Miss Oh for the award.
Once, after a former patient with multiple ailments fell ill at home last November, Miss Oh took it upon herself to get the prescribed medicine from the hospital’s pharmacy, and went to his home after she had finished work.
So committed is she to her calling that she said she would be a nurse “forever”.
“Though there are nursing staff younger than me, I look forward to learning from them and picking up skills,” she said.