FAMILY MATTERS Far from home, but close to caring folks
the big interview
The Women’s Man
what’s up doc
When a cough just doesn't go away
n December 2010, we were honoured to win the Singapore Prestige Brand Award for a second consecutive year and emerge as the Overall Winner in the Heritage Category. These awards recognise our efforts to reach out to the public and at the same time, continue to deliver consistently on our promise to Serve all, with Love. The hospital celebrated another form of ‘Double Happiness’ on the first day of the new year when we delivered two of the four babies born in Singapore at the stroke of midnight on 1st January 2011. This marks a great start to the new year, and we look forward to doing our part in delivering more babies in 2011 as we move into the “Rabbit” year. We will soon commence the next phase of our hospital development to improve our services and facilities further. During the period of renovation, several departments will be relocated temporarily to other locations within the hospital. We will keep you duly informed along the way to ensure minimal inconvenience and disruption. Features you can look forward to include a more spacious lobby, a new open-concept business office, a new and expanded retail pharmacy, a one-stop information centre and new food and beverage concepts offering more variety and choice, all targeted to be ready later this year. The side entrance block with an expanded health screening centre, a side entrance for direct pedestrian access from Thomson Road and other facilities will be ready by early 2012, while the new medical suite building scheduled for completion by early 2013 will add more medical suites and carpark lots. This year marks Mount Alvernia Hospital’s 50th anniversary. In celebration of our anniversary, we will be sharing with you a series of upcoming talks and activities. Starting with this issue of My Alvernia, you can take a walk down memory lane by reading 50th anniversary features that take a look at our unique heritage. We will also bring the Mount Alvernia story out to the public through exhibition panels throughout the year. As we evolve with new facilities and innovations, some things will not change. The Ministry of Health recently expanded the bill size comparison to include private hospitals for a first time. The comparison showed that bill sizes at Mount Alvernia Hospital are lowest among the private hospitals across most procedures. We are happy that this bears out our value proposition of offering value-for-money, high quality private healthcare, and this is a mission that we will continue to further strengthen.
Khoo Chow Huat
CEO, Mount Alvernia Hospital
Editorial team Publisher: Mount Alvernia Hospital 820 Thomson Road, Singapore 574623 Tel: 6347 6688 Fax: 6347 6632
Editor: Geraldine Wang Editorial Advisor: Han May Ching
Contributing Writer: Aileen Lai Editorial Co-ordinator: Premila Elangovan
Design TOM Design & Communications For feedback and inquries, please email: [email protected]
a note of thanks
for little Atikah
In our second issue (left), we ran a story of a young child’s triumph over ependydoma, a form of brain tumour. Since leaving the hospital, little Atikah’s family has continued to keep in touch with us from their home country of Brunei. We are delighted share the progress of the much-loved toddler in this follow up story.
ive Atikah some crayons and paper and the fouryear-old can spend hours colouring, painting or fixing jigsaw puzzles. When the music of Hi-5 comes on, you might even catch her jumping into action with her own little dance steps. These are things most parents might take for granted. But not Pg Bahrin because not too long ago, his youngest child was a shadow of her lively self. Quiet and withdrawn, the then two-year-old had to live with abnormally high water pressure in her brain, the result of a tumour growing in her brain. The family brought Atikah to Singapore for treatment and she underwent a series of four operations under Consultant Neurosurgeon Dr Timothy Lee. This was followed up with intensive ‘play therapy’ which involved chest physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy to help her get back into the normal swing of daily activities. Today, her proud father declares that Atikah “can walk, run, eat and talk like she used to before the illness.” And he is grateful to all who made that possible.
“The doctors, nurses and staff of the hospital really helped us by showing their care and attention toward Atikah, especially after the major operations and during the recovery process,” recalled Pg Bahrin, who took turns with his wife to stay by his daughter’s side throughout the period. “Of all the therapies, we believe that support and encouragement from people around her was the most important and really helped her,” he shared. During her stay, little Atikah endeared herself to the hospital staff caring for her so much that they organised a surprise birthday-cum-farewell party for her when she turned two. Food was kindly sponsored by Dr Lee and guests at the party held at the hospital’s playroom included staff from the Critical Care Unit, St Gabriel’s children ward and Rehabilitation Department. Following her discharge, Atikah continued recovery therapy at a local centre back home for another six months and still has regular six monthly check-ups just to make sure everything is on track. “By God’s will, we always pray for her good health and long life,” said her father. Next up is another big milestone for Atikah: enrolling in kindergarten. Good luck Atikah!
MyAlvernia Issue 7
the big issue
MyAlvernia Issue 7
Family Matters Read full story on Pg 4 & 5
MyAlvernia Issue 7
the big issue Family Matters
Aariz with mum
and big sister
Jasia back hom
e in Banglades
When Mohamad Farzad Aariz Amin’s parents brought him to Mount Alvernia with Meningitis, they were worried about how they would cope with a sick baby and being far away from home. Sensitive to their needs, the hospital staff rallied round the family from Bangladesh and made sure they got all the support they needed to get through the testing time. onsultant dermatologist Fawzia Irfanahuq was at work one day when she received a call from her daughter Jasia. The seven-year-old sounded anxious and told her mother that her six-month old brother Aariz was running a temperature and had vomited several times. Each time they tried to rehydrate him, he would regurgitate. The worried mother rushed home and sent the baby to a local hospital in Bangladesh where the family lived. She also called her husband, an interventional radiologist who was in Singapore for a medical fellowship programme at that time, and he flew back soon after. A series of tests and CT scan revealed a lumbar puncture, brain hemorrhage and tumour in the brain. The 34-year-old mother was stunned. She had enjoyed a smooth pregnancy with no complications and the family had no history of such a condition so this was shocking news.
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As parents, Fawzia and her husband Amin felt lost. “I felt so helpless because he was so young and yet in so much suffering,” recalled Fawzia. “Although my husband and I are both doctors, we were not able to do much to relieve his pain.” As time passed, Aariz’s condition did not improve and to add to their worries, the doctors the couple consulted in Bangladesh were very apprehensive about operating on the baby because they had not handled such cases before. As immediate surgical intervention was needed, the couple decided to transfer their son to a hospital in India where the medical team tried to remove as much of the blood clot and tumour as possible. The relieved parents thought the ordeal was over. However, two weeks later, Aariz was still drowsy and could not recognise or respond to his parents. The problem was later traced to excess fluid causing pressure in the brain.
the big issue Family Matters
Singapore Operation Once again, the couple elected to fly the baby out for treatment, this time to Singapore, which would allow Amin to continue his fellowship at the same time. Soon after arriving in Singapore, Aariz went to a local hospital to drain off the excess fluid in his brain. Though the procedure was a success, a post surgery complication resulted in Aariz contracting Meningitis. The implication: Aariz had to be hospitalized for an extended period until things cleared up. In view of the unexpected twist of events, Fawzia opted for no pay leave from her job to care for Aariz. On their doctor’s advice, the family also decided to transfer the boy to Mount Alvernia Hospital for follow up procedures and treatment. What followed was an emotional roller coaster as Aariz went in and out of the Operating Theatre for a series of procedures to tackle the infection and other complications. All this took a toll on the toddler who had to endure bouts of fever, lethargy and feeding difficulties. Kind & Concerned It was tough on the family but Fawzia thinks being at Mount Alvernia really made a difference. “Everyone here is very sympathetic to the patient’s needs and condition,” she said, adding that they were touched by how the staff always strove to provide what was best for her son and make him feel better. After nearly three months of treatment under the watchful eyes of the hospital staff and attending doctors neurosurgeon Dr Tang Kok Kee and paediatrician Dr Phuah Huan Kee, Aariz finally turned the corner and was well enough to be discharged. The prognosis was also very good. Although a small residual tumour remained in the brain, Dr Tang said it should remain stable.
“She was always very concerned, not just about Aariz but also my daughter and me. Sensitive to my emotions and worries, she constantly encouraged me to seek solace in the hospital’s prayer room,” shared Fawzia. Throughout the two and half months Aariz was warded, Sister Lim ensured that he was under close supervision by her nurses. She also made an effort to speak to the parents from time to time to give them moral support. “This is very important especially for foreign patients who have no support from family and friends when they are hospitalized,” explained Sister Lim. “We try to be the ‘family’ who is not present to support and help them through every step of this journey.” Spiritual & Emotional Support The hospital’s Clinical Pastoral Care (CPC) team also did what they could to give the family support. Knowing that the family was Muslim, Ms Rose Goh from the CPC team arranged for an Iman, Enchik Hajis Jaffar to come to the hospital to visit the family and offer them spiritual support. The prayers and words of comfort offered by the religious priest went a long way towards helping the family cope emotionally. Fawzia was impressed not just at the thoughtfulness of the hospital staff, but their open mindedness as well. “Everyone here is very considerate to our religion despite this being a Catholic hospital,” she said. On the day of little Aariz’s discharge from hospital, the staff organised a surprise birthday party for him. It was a joyous celebration for the whole family – Aariz, Jasia, Fawzia, Amin, the doctors and everyone at Alvernia.
One person Fawzia is especially thankful for was Sister Lim Sem Choo, the Nurse Manager of the St Gabriel’s Paediatric Ward at Mount Alvernia, whom she described as “like a mother to me” and always there to provide a listening ear.
Laughter The Best Medicine A woman walked up to a little old man rocking in a chair on his porch. “I couldn’t help noticing how happy you look,” she said. “What’s your secret for a long happy life?” “I smoke three packs of cigarettes a day,” he said. “I also drink a case of whiskey a week, eat fatty foods, and never exercise.” “That’s amazing,” the woman said. “How old are you?” “Twenty-six,” he said. MyAlvernia Issue 7
in the pink
Women’s bodies go through tremendous transformations during pregnancy and childbirth. It requires patience, time and effort to tone up and bring the body back to shape. Here are some exercises recommended by our physiotherapists to get you started.
Knee Rocking (below)
Abdominal Curl (above)
Pectoral Toner (right)
Why it helps
Why it helps
Why it helps
This exercise helps to loosen the back muscles and remove ‘wind’ from the stomach or flatus from the large intestine.
How to Lie on your back with knees bent and arms stretched out from your sides. Keep knees and feet together while you rock your knees from side to side. Do this to an extent that you are comfortable with. Rock slowly for 1-3 minutes. Gradually build up to 5-10 minutes.
Precaution to take Do not twist from the waist. Instead start the movement from the knee.
During pregnancy, the gap between the abdominal muscles widens in order to accommodate the larger size of the tummy. This exercise will help to hasten the closure of the gap between the muscles in order to tone up your abdomen.
How to Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Stretch out your hands towards your knees and tuck in your abdominal muscles to reach forward. Breathe out as your head and shoulders leave the ground and hold for 1-2 seconds. Slowly lower your upper body down. Practice for 15 reps a day then progress to 30-40 reps.
Precaution to take Only start this exercise eight weeks after delivery if you have had a Caesarean Section and do check with your doctor as well.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy cause women’s breasts to enlarge. After childbirth and breastfeeding, the breasts may decrease in size and droop. This exercise targets the upper chest muscles underlying the breasts and helps prevent sagging.
How to This exercise may be done either sitting or standing. Hold your arms up in front of you with elbows bent and hold on to the upper arms with your hands. Then push your hands against the elbows. Hold the contraction for 3-5 seconds. Start with 30 reps a day. Gradually increase to 40 reps a day.
Precaution to take Be mindful not to hold your breath while performing this exercise. Stop if you feel chest pains.
Learn the full range of post-natal body shaping exercises when you sign up for a class at Mount Alvernia. The 45-minute class is conducted three times a week on Mon, Wed and Fri (excluding public holidays). Time: 2pm. Fee $26.75 (inc. GST), $40.66 (inc. GST) for 1-to-1 session. For more information, please call (+65) 6347 6203
MyAlvernia Issue 7
BuNdle Of Joy A workshop for parents-to-be Saturday, 26 March 2011, 11am-5pm Orchard Hotel, Antica Ballroom, Level 2
Children occupy a special place in the hearts of Mount Alvernia staff. Besides offering warm smiles and assuring words, we also try to provide the little ones with a bright and cheerful environment and plenty to do to take their minds off whatever brought them to the doctor in the first place. Here are some recent touches we have added to our 24-hour Walk-in Clinic & Emergency Services.
CARING FOR YOUR BONES & JOINTS A seminar on muscle, joint and bone disease prevention and options for treatment Saturday, 16 April 2011, 2pm-5pm Suntec Convention Centre, Room 303
Alphabet soup: even the walls of the consultation room contain little puzzles. So how many letters can you find?
Learn to draw: specially designed activity sheets are available for those who love to doodle away.
Child’s Play (Above, main picture): toys and books keep little ones engaged while waiting for the doctor.
Please refer to www. mtalvernia-hospital.org for registration details.
MyAlvernia Issue 7
the big interview
They say the first sound of a baby’s cry is heaven to a mother’s ears. For Dr Kenneth Edward Lee (above), being the deliverer of good news to anxious mothers is the most gratifying part of his job. My Alvernia chats with the Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist to find out more about the joys and challenges of pregnancy.
tep into Dr Kenneth Edward Lee’s clinic and you will immediately be surrounded by walls of cards and photos of smiling mothers and their newborns, many posing with the good doctor who helped herald new life into their families. These are testament to the many lives which have been impacted by his work. Asked why he chose his particular field, the down-to-earth 44-year-old admitted that he liked it because it was associated with happy tidings. Obstetrics & Gynaecology also provides a nice balance of surgery and internal medicine. “You get to be both a surgeon and physician. It’s never boring,” he explained. But there are sacrifices too, such as having to be on-call 24/7 and having to rush down to the hospital in the middle of the night. The demand on his time can be challenging, especially as a father of three, but after 10 years of private practice, the
MyAlvernia Issue 7
last seven years of which have been at Mount Alvernia, Dr Lee thinks he has finally struck the right balance between work and family life. “It works out well for me as I get to spend lots of time with the kids and yet am able to run a very satisfying practice.” One of the biggest fears of women about childbirth is pain. What sort of pain relief is available today? The common ones are Entonox, which is a mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide; Pethidine, which is administered intramuscularly; and Epidural, sometimes called ‘Happy Dural’ because it provides very good pain relief, is very safe, and even helps with dilation of the cervix. However, mothers should consider the various pain relief options well in advance and not wait until the pain becomes unbearable before deciding. An epidural, for example, must be done by an anaesthetist and is most effective if administered during the early stages of labour.
the big interview Are more women opting for Caesarean deliveries today? Why? Caesarean delivery is recommended when there are medical indications, for example, a low lying placenta. Increasingly more women are asking for it and the procedure has become safer than it used to be. Some women opt for a Caesarean delivery for horoscopic reasons. Some are fearful of the pain of childbirth. Some worry about the loosening of the vaginal walls after childbirth. It is also getting more common as more women delay marriage and childbirth till a later age, by which time there are more risks and chance of complications in childbirth, which then lead to medical indications and the need for delivery via surgery.
are mothers with multiple pregnancies (carrying more than one baby), women who have had many babies (fourth or subsequent pregnancy), or women with uterine abnormalities like fibroids or low lying placenta. Is it true that women who get pregnant at an older age face a higher risk of pregnancy complications? Yes, women past the age of 35 tend to face a higher risk of their child getting Down’s Syndrome. Staying healthy and
How regularly should an expectant mother visit her doctor? Within the first trimester, mothers should visit the doctor every two to three weeks in case there are any problems with the baby at the initial stages. From week 12 to 28, consultation should be done once every four weeks and subsequently every fortnight between week 28 to 36. From week 37-40, mothers see the doctor once a week. How common are miscarriages today? Why do they happen?
In the old days, most doctors would recommend up to three babies via C-section but the procedure is much safer now so even 4-5 babies delivered this way should not be a problem. The surgical cut is now made at a lower segment resulting in better wound healing and lower chance of uterine rupture.
Miscarriages occur in about 10-20% of all pregnancies. Although we cannot explain why they happen, there are several possible causes. It could be nature’s way of dealing with an abnormal foetus. It could be due to maternal illness or uterine abnormality – for example cervical incompetence (the inability of the cervix to hold a baby). It could also be due to trauma suffered during a pregnancy. If a couple experiences more than three recurrent miscarriages, I recommend further investigations for both partners to see if there are any underlying conditions affecting their ability to keep their pregnancy.
What is post-partum hemorrhage and why does it happen?
Any parting advice to expecting mothers out there?
Do you recommend women who have delivered via Caesarean section to limit the number of babies they have?
Post-partum hemorrhage is when there is excessive bleeding following the delivery of the baby. It may be due to uterine atony, which means the uterus cannot contract properly after delivery or the placenta is retained instead of being properly expelled after delivery. It is not very common but women at risk
exercising regularly may reduce the chance of infertility or the risks of facing pregnancy complications but it does not entirely eliminate the possibility of such complications occurring. Still, there are many tests that can be done to increase the chances of a good outcome for mother and baby.
Enjoy the experience. It is indeed a privilege and a blessing to be a mummy. Being one brings out the best in you, so be happy! It is advisable for mummies-to-be to visit their healthcare professionals as and when scheduled to reduce the chances of complications, and to anticipate problems.
Post delivery ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ Despite the old wives’ tale of not showering for a month after delivery, a definite ‘do’ is to take a shower when medically stable as better hygiene will help to boost your own morale. Mothers should also get as much rest as possible after giving birth and avoid over strenuous activities that will tire themselves out. Massage, three to four weeks after delivery, is also good as it helps you to stay relaxed.
Dr Kenneth Edward Lee is based at the Maternity & Gynaecological Clinic, #B1-01 Blk A, Mount Alvernia Medical Centre, Tel: (+65) 6252 5360, (+65) 6252 5778.
MyAlvernia Issue 7
what’s up doc?
When a cough
just doesn’t go away
Cough and cold are common conditions that everyone has experienced at one time or another. But if it develops into a chronic cough, you could be looking at something far more serious. My Alvernia talks to Respiratory Physician Dr Jane Yap (above) to find out why.
physically active 52-year-old lady presented what seemed like a normal cold. She was treated for her cold. Yet the cough and congestion in the nose and chest persisted. Feeling that something was not right that a cold lasted so long, the family doctor referred the lady to chest specialist Dr Jane Yap. A chest x-ray was done and showed a huge right lung tumour. Further investigations confirmed lung cancer in the last stage. This was just 8 weeks after she first sought medical attention from her family doctor. This true story reveals how a simple chronic cough can have far more sinister implications than most people imagine. At Dr Yap’s clinic, as many as half of the cases she sees are cough-related. She takes us through the different types of cough and their causes. Why do we cough? Cough is an important mechanism that allows us to clear the airway of secretion and foreign material. However this is also a means of spreading infection. Chronic cough is troublesome and may have complications like insomnia, muscle pain and rib fracture.
MyAlvernia Issue 7
When does a cough become chronic? In general, a cough becomes chronic when it lasts longer than 3 weeks. By then, the patient is likely to have consulted a number of family doctors and eventually ended up seeing a specialist. What are the common causes of cough? Acute cough is most frequently due to the common cold, followed by bacterial infection of the sinus, allergic rhinitis, asthma and exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Although less common, it can also be associated with serious conditions like pneumonia and heart failure. Chronic cough can result from a single cause or a combination of two or more conditions.The most common causes of chronic cough among the non-smokers are postnasal drip syndrome (PNDS), asthma and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). A person with PNDS usually has a feeling of something dripping down his throat. He tends to experience a need to clear the throat, nasal congestion, discharge or hoarseness. Usually, he would have had a recent cold or suffer from allergic rhinitis, acute or chronic sinusitis.
what’s up doc?
Asthma must be considered in all patients with a chronic cough even though there is no other characteristic complaint of asthma. This condition is called cough variant asthma. The treatment is the same for asthma presenting with shortness of breath and wheezing. GERD is caused when contents from the stomach flow back (reflux) into the gullet. It is not easy to diagnose as more than half of the persons with cough due to GERD are unaware of reflux. They may not have the typical symptoms like heartburn, sour taste or regurgitation. GERD may have a self-perpetuating cycle in conjunction with another cause of cough. Is a cough always infectious? Strictly speaking, a cough is not infectious unless it is caused by an infection from a virus, bacteria or tuberculosis. The colour of phlegm varies from clear to yellow, what do they indicate? In general when it is thick and green or yellow, it implies infection. When it turns clear, it means the infection is resolving and responding to treatment. If the phlegm is clear, it is more like hypersensitivity as in asthma or rhinitis, or drug and GERD induced cough. When there is blood in the phlegm, it could indicate bleeding along the mucosal lining from the pressure of coughing. Or it could be indicative of a more serious infection like TB, bronchiectasis or cancer. Further investigations would be required to obtain a proper diagnosis.
What are other causes of chronic cough? Lung Cancer should be considered a potential cause in all especially in present or prior smokers. Tobacco smoking causes the great majority of lung cancer. Cough as a presenting complaint may be ignored as smokers are expected to cough. Other symptoms include bloody sputum, loss of weight, hoarseness, shortness of breath and lumps in the neck. These will usually bring them to medical attention earlier.
Stop smoking. Tobacco smoke causes inflammation of the airway, excessive mucus secretion and impairment of normal clearance of mucus. It can cause lung cancer and COPD.
Tuberculosis of the lung has not left us. It can present itself with cough, bloody sputum, loss of weight and fever. There may be a history of close contact with a TB case. The other risk factors for contracting TB are underlying Diabetes, cancer and decreased immunity as in HIV infection.
Cover your mouth if you have to cough, keep your hands clean and avoid crowded places. Coughing spreads infection, so be civic-minded and do your part to prevent the spread.
Drug-induced cough is a possibility in persons with hypertension and taking certain blood pressure lowering medicine. The cough is usually dry and hacking. The cough is usually resolved within a month when one stops the medication. Pertussis, or whooping cough, is an upper respiratory infection, sometimes called the 100 day cough. A deep “whooping” sound is often heard when the patient tries to take a breath and the coughing can make it hard to breathe. Antibiotics are the prescribed treatment.
Dealing with Cough – some useful tips
Smokers who suffer from chronic bronchitis often do not seek medical attention because they expect to cough as a result of smoking.
Complete the prescribed course of antibiotics. Be disciplined and follow your doctor’s orders. You will not get well and worse, if you have been irregular with the medication, the bacteria could turn resistant to the antibiotics. Seek medical attention early. If your cough is chronic or associated with shortness of breath, with or without wheezing. Other warning signs are blood in the sputum, high fever or persistent fever, and loss of weight.
Habitual and Psychogenic Cough can only be diagnosed after other illness have been ruled out. Suggestion therapy, psychological counselling or psychiatric intervention is appropriate.
Is it good to suppress a cough? It depends on the cause. If it is due to an infection, it is best to get the phlegm out and not block up the airway.
Dr Jane Yap is based at Jane Yap Chest And Medical Clinic, Mount Alvernia Medical Centre Blk A, #B1-04. Tel: (+65) 6356 9928.
MyAlvernia Issue 7
deliciously healthy Ingredients:
1kg Large Prawns 3 tsp Light soya sauce 1 tsp Sesame oil 1 tsp Dark soya sauce 40g Young ginger 30g Garlic 30g Onion 20g Shallots 10g Red chilli 1 tbsp Chinese hua diao wine 1/2 cup Water 3 tsp Cornflour 1 tbsp Hot broad bean paste 1 tbsp Tomato ketchup 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce 2 tsp Sugar 1 sprig Spring onion
De-vein the prawns by using a pair of scissors to make a shallow cut on the shell just below the head to the last segment of the tail. Use a small tooth pick to pull out the vein.
2. Finely chop the young ginger, garlic, shallots, red chilli, onion and finely cut the spring onion. Set aside. 3.
Season the prawns with half a teaspoon of light soya sauce, one teaspoon of sesame oil and one teaspoon of cornflour.
4. Heat up the pan with oil and fry the prawns till cooked. Set aside. 5. Pour away the oil that was used for frying the prawns.
6. Add two tablespoon of oil into the same pan and heat till it is sizzling hot. 7. Add in the chopped young ginger, garlic, onion and red chilli. Fry till fragrant. 8.
Add in the hot broad bean paste, tomato ketchup, light soya sauce, worcestershire sauce, sesame oil and sugar.
9. Put the cooked prawns into the wok and add water, mixing well. 10. Turn the prawns over and over again to ensure that they absorb the sauces. 11. When ready, mix one teaspoon of corn flour with two teaspoon of water and mix well before adding into the wok. 12. Mix well and turn off the fire. 13. Garnish with spring onions. Ready to serve.
Nutrition Tip To reduce cholesterol intake, remove the prawn head when consuming.
Nutrition Content: One serving will give:
Fragrant Fried Prawn MyAlvernia Issue 7
199kilocalories 35g 2g 246mg 9g 0.5g 933mg
energy protein fat cholesterol carbohydrate fibre sodium
50th Anniversary Special
Mount Alvernia Hospital was officially opened by Dato Lee Kong Chian on 4th March 1961. After five decades, our motto remains to Serve all, with Love. As we celebrate our 50th birthday, we’d like to thank each and every one of you for your continued support and have prepared some special activities at the hospital for you.
For Alvernia Babies In conjunction with the hospital’s 50th anniversary in 2011, any person who can show proof of birth at Mount Alvernia may apply for any Alvernia Baby 50th anniversary Standard Health Screening Packages throughout the anniversary year. Prices start at $280 (before GST) for a Classic Package to $960 (before GST) for a Heart Screen Plus Package. Verification is required by Birth Certificate or relevant document. Please call 6347 6215 for more details.
Health SCREENING If you are not an Alvernia Baby, fret not. We have not forgotten you! 50th Anniversary Standard Health Screening Packages (excluding Lean Packages) are available from $297.50 (before GST) upwards for two or more persons or $315 (before GST) upwards for individuals. Valid till end March. Please call 6347 6215 for more details.
Blood Screening If you already have done a recent comprehensive health screen and just wish to zoom in on specific indicators, another option is a Blood Screen. In conjunction with the 50th Anniversary, our Lab has created two packages to choose from: Basic ($50 before GST) and Comprehensive ($100 before GST). Available till end March. Please call 6347 6213 for more details.
Bone CHECK Are you 50 years old or above this year? To mark our 50th anniversary, a Full Body Bone Mass Densitometry is available at our Diagnostic Imaging Department for $50 (price before GST). Verification by Identity Card or relevant document is required. Please call 6347 6200 for more details.
March Specials @ Retail Pharmacy • • • •
Omron Compressor Nebulizer NE-C28 packaged with MC270 thermometer. Price: $104.40 inc GST (Usual: $116) Cadi T560 Ear & Forehead Thermometer: $86 inc GST (Usual: $96) Philips range of Breast Pumps from $86.32 inc GST (Usual: $107.90) upwards 20% off selected Avene, Elancyl, Klorane & Aderma products.
MyAlvernia Issue 7
50th Anniversary special
Back in the Day St o r i e s f r o m o u r P i o n e e r s
In conjunction with our 50th Anniversary in 2011, we bring you the story of Mount Alvernia as told by the ones who know it best – our founding FMDM sisters. Our series kicks off with some delightful tales from Sister Tarcisius Leong. Childbirth is always an exciting time, but for Sister Tarcisius Leong, one of the pioneer batch of nuns who ran the hospital in its early days and is now retired, one birth remains etched in her memory as fresh as if it happened yesterday. It was Children’s Day, 1st Oct 1962. Sr Tarcisius, better known around the hospital as Sr Tarci, was then working in the Labour Ward as a midwife. The expectant mother was into her fifth pregnancy, but none of her babies thus far had made it to full term. A normal full term pregnancy lasts about 38 weeks, but this baby was only 26 weeks old and threatening to pop out any moment. In fact the baby’s head was already showing. Sensing that the situation was critical, Sr Tarci summoned the Obstetrician immediately. Nature, however, could not wait. Before the doctor could get himself all scrubbed up and ready for the delivery,
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the mother ‘shot’ the baby out with one push. “The doctor arrived just in time by the bedside to literally catch the baby!” recalled Sr Tarci with a chuckle. While the delivery was successful, the situation remained dicey. “At 26 weeks, the baby’s chances of survival are very low,” explained Sr Tarci. “When I held her in my hands, she was like a little kitten, only the size of my palm, with skin like jelly, revealing all that was beneath.” However, Sr Tarci said they were determined to help the tiny baby who weighed just 596g overcome the odds. They took careful care of the infant and even had to resuscitate her on several occasions when she turned black. Their faith and determination paid off. The baby made it past the critical phase and recently delighted the sisters when she returned to Mount Alvernia for a visit and presented herself as a beautiful and intelligent lady, all grown up more than 30 years later.
All in the family Speak to former patients and the older staff of the hospital and you will discover many such heartwarming stories associated with Mount Alvernia. But the early days of the hospital in the 60’s & 70’s were also notable for another interesting aspect. Back then, the hospital was managed entirely by the nuns of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood (FMDM). So what was it like? “There were no defined roles,” said Sr Tarci who is now 87. “I wore a few hats – midwife, ambulance driver, and mentor to new postulants for the FMDM order.” Mount Alvernia Hospital was, in Sr Tarci’s own words, “Like a comfortable home where everyone knows everyone. We all help each other out. We chat with the doctors, we spend time talking to the patients – it’s like a big family.”
If you commit your life to a religious order, first and foremost, you have to always think about God. I suppose in our life we are trained to think about God and to remember that whatever we do, we do for God and His people, which is everybody in other words. So whatever you do, it doesn’t matter. Everything is for God and His people. We don’t think about aches and pains or the hard work. We go from work to work because we are working for God. -Sr Tarcisius Leong, FMDM
Today, Sr Tarci tends to ‘babies’ of a different nature in the garden.
MyAlvernia Issue 7
up close & personal
Working for a
cause Collective spirit: Ms Han and Alvernia volunteers in Batam recently.
s a young graduate, Ms Han May Ching already possessed the drive of a go-getter. Eager to learn and ever willing to take on new challenges, the feisty work ethic led her to various opportunities within the government and tourism sector. However, a desire to discover something more, to move outside her comfort zone, and most importantly, a unique value proposition, drew her to Mount Alvernia. “I like the fact that the hospital is not solely profit-driven. It has a social mission which I feel is apt of a healthcare provider,” explained the 42-year-old on her decision to join the hospital in November 2007. As Director of Corporate Development, Ms Han oversees a team that handles everything from physician relationship management to strategic marketing; business analysis and corporate planning to marketing communication and patient liaison services.
The Alvernia Community Outreach programme conducts health screening services for the elderly and communities in need. To-date, more than 5,400 people at over 50 locations
MyAlvernia Issue 7
The programme is running smoothly now, but it had its fair share of challenges in the beginning. “We had to define the roles of the volunteers and assign the right number of volunteers to each role. With clearly defined roles, the activity becomes more meaningful and fulfilling for volunteers,” explained Ms Han. Then there were the logistical issues especially for overseas projects - language barriers, immigration clearance and difficulties in the transportation of medical equipment.
There is a social mission Ms Han credits the “sheer determination of the staff that remains strong within involved” for overcoming all these in the name of charity. Mount Alvernia and being able hurdles “Volunteer work transcends titles and corporate hierarchy. Everyone to be in a corporation that is helps out, whether they are from driven by both work and its the administration, wards, clinical or housekeeping. Even the social mission, is like having the services CEO has volunteered and manned the registration counter for us.” best of both worlds.
But corporate matters are not all that she is passionate about. In April 2009, the hospital introduced a new Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative, commonly referred to as the Community Outreach programme. Ms Han headed the team that pioneered the project which is now into its third year.
have benefited from the programme which is run entirely by staff volunteers who pitch in on their non-work weekends. Over 90% of the hospital’s staff are involved in the programme.
This sense of team spirit is one Ms Han alludes to often when describing the people behind the Community Outreach programme and her Corporate Development Division. “I am very blessed to have a very dedicated team and we work hard as one,” she said. Whether the task at hand is corporate or charitable, Ms Han’s advice to staff is basically the same, “Tackle work challenges as issue-based problems to be solved with a creative mind, and don’t let your emotions get in the way.”
raditions that stand the test of time
With their busy schedules, it’s always hard for doctors to find time to sit down for a proper meal. Which is why at Mount Alvernia, we make sure our doctors don’t go hungry. In the old days, the nuns used to present doctors who were done with surgery with a little treat of coffee/tea and toast (inset) before they ran off for their next appointment. That custom has evolved today to the daily Doctors’ Breakfast at Café 820. It’s a gesture that’s on the house and from the heart.