Singapore Today: Interesting Jobs
A couple of our colleagues were recently featured in a Channel 8 News segment to shine a spotlight on some of the lesser-known jobs and roles that keep a hospital functioning and operational.
Mr Terry Teo, Senior Executive, ALPS @ NTFGH Non-Pharmaceutical Logistics, and Mr Henry Lee, Senior Associate, ALPS @ NTFGH Non-Pharmaceutical Logistics describe what their jobs entail and the logistical challenges they faced when the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
Watch the ‘Hello Singapore - Interesting Jobs’ video clip below. (In Mandarin with Chinese subtitles)
狮城有约 - 鲜为人"职"
HELLO SINGAPORE – INTERESTING JOBS (TRANSCRIPT)
Doctors and nurses are medical professionals whom we are familiar with. In a hospital setting, there are other ‘hidden’ unsung heroes we may not know of. Patients rely on their services on a daily basis but may not know much about the people behind these jobs. For example, what does the ‘Machine Doctor’ in the hospital do every day?
My job requires me to carry a 4-to 5-kilogram bag with two other bags while inspecting the medical equipment. We will be performing tests on the medical equipment to find out if they are faulty. Now we are going to trouble-shoot the Physiological Monitoring Machine over there as the staff informed it is faulty. Usually, we are not given many details so we will have to perform the necessary tests on the said equipment.
By conducting step by step analysis, counterchecking and verifying the readings on the various equipment, as well as having a thorough understanding of the technological advancements in the field of medical equipment – this is how the ‘Machine Doctors’ grow and progress on the job. After completing the tasks on hand, they will move on to the next location.
We can fix about 10 equipment faults in various locations every day and that means about 10,000 steps on foot. Sometimes we may find blood or human feces on the equipment in the wards and we have to clean them before any repair work.
The periodic maintenance, troubleshoot and repair for the 12,000 equipment inventory at the Ng Teng Fong General Hospital are carried out by the team of 20-plus Biomedical Engineers.
We are like a hospital for the medical equipment with all the different components to fix any malfunctioning equipment. Each equipment is given an asset number and cost incurred is recorded for each repair. If the cost is deemed high or for an equipment that remains faulty after several repairs, we will have to write them off. This is the ‘birth’ and ‘death place’ of the equipment.
Regardless of age and ‘gender’, they have to navigate through a sea of tools, parts, wires, electrical plugs, and more on a daily basis.
We need to know a thing or two for everything. There are situations where I was asked if an equipment was repairable before I arrived on site. They expect immediate rectifications, and it is understandable as patients need to use the equipment but it also makes this job challenging and stressful. I find the different aspects of my job interesting as involves the other side of hospital operations unknown to the public.
Similarly, you may be busy looking out for the clinic for your medical appointment and not notice the team of hardworking inventory personnel as they roam around the equipment rooms on each level and the Materials Management Department.
Every morning, my team and I will visit the ward’s equipment room for the items that require our inspection. Here, we will open this drawer to retrieve a card that carries the identification number of an item. The details are scanned into our system and our inventory staff will prepare the necessary replenishments.
Upon receiving the items lists, the inventory assistants begin their hectic day. This is where over 600 categories of medical equipment and supplies are managed. They include dressing gauze, syringes, surgical operation supplies as well as items one may even have difficulty naming.
Over here at the entrance of the warehouse, adhesive sheets are used to remove any dirt left by shoes and vehicle tires to ensure cleanliness is maintained. The inventory staff are busy sorting and weighing various items and loading them on the delivery carts.
I oversee 4 levels and each level has 4 storerooms and items are replenished once in the morning and again in the afternoon.
The replenished items are neatly placed in their respective drawers making sure they are accessible by the doctors and nurses.
Finally, I will return the respective cards of the items dispatched thus completing my task. I will also pass the inventory list to the nursing staff for signatories and acknowledgement.
Due to the wide range of inventory items and numerous storerooms, this job is rather labour intensive.
Each inventory assistant runs between 10 to 15 trips or at least 10,000 walking steps a day and sometimes 20,000 or even 30,000 steps. During the pandemic, supply shortages and demand surge were our greatest challenges. Before the pandemic, items were delivered in boxes and with the pandemic, they were delivered in cart loads instead. That was a hectic period for my colleagues and me.
Thankfully, the inventory assistants are assisted by the Automated Guided Vehicles. These automated carts are designed to travel on planned routes and are capable of taking lifts by themselves. They are often an interesting sight for many as they ply the hospital campus.
Our work operations are very important and we have a highly cooperative team. We endeavour to complete all our tasks before heading home every day. I find my job meaningful as our patients are discharged and it is my contribution to Singapore.
In my working life, I have been involved in helping the patients and while I am not a doctor nor nurse, my way of contribution is being there when help is needed to troubleshoot the malfunctioning medical equipment. It is my responsibility.
Whether in normalcy or during the pandemic, hospital operations require not only the doctors and nurses but also the contributions made by these unsung heroes working behind the scenes. Their 10,000 walking steps daily have ensured the smooth delivery and supply of medical equipment and hospital supplies and they are a solid and reliable backend support for the hospital.
We have come to the end of ‘Hello Singapore’. For more news updates, do browse our 8world news site and facebook page.
Thank you for watching. See you again.