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Medicine, Humanistic Culture

Tzu Chi Volunteers Come Together to Bring Life to COVID-19 Treatment Facility at F1 Pit Building

Several facilities across Singapore have been re-designated to house infected patients due to the increase in COVID-19 community cases in recent times. With the F1 Pit Building the latest to be converted to a COVID-19 Treatment Facility (CTF) for elderly patients, Tzu Chi volunteers took the opportunity to spruce up the building with Jing Si Aphorisms posters before its opening.

Disclaimer: All activities depicted in this article were conducted in compliance with the COVID-19 rules and regulations at that given time.

Tzu Chi volunteers working conscientiously to put up almost 1,000 pieces of Jing Si Aphorisms posters over the course of two days. (Photo by Chan May Ching)

On two consecutive early Wednesday mornings (27 October 2021 and 3 November 2021), a total of more than 45 Tzu Chi volunteers and staff gathered at the F1 Pit Building in Marina Bay. With the Singapore F1 Grand Prix already cancelled for a second year running due to COVID-19, they were certainly not there to partake in any motor racing activities. Instead, armed with boxes filled with freshly printed Jing Si Aphorisms posters, they were there with the sole aim of bringing life to the newly designated CTF.

With the recent rise in COVID-19 community cases, there has been an urgent need for more treatment facilities to help ease the pressure on hospitals. Thus, many buildings around the island have been converted to serve this purpose and the latest one in line would be the three-storey F1 Pit Building. Moving away from hosting the usual motorsports-related events, its premises have been meticulously repurposed to house around 700 elderly patients. However, with its whitewashed walls and lack of decorations, there remained an unmistakable feeling of coldness and unfamiliarity.   

Therefore, when the opportunity came about for Tzu Chi to step forward to decorate the patients’ wards, it was an easy decision for all parties involved. The National University Health System (NUHS) is in charge of repurposing the F1 Pit Building and had previously also worked with Tzu Chi on similar CTF projects in the past year. Thus, they were well-aware of the impact that the organisation would have in uplifting the morale of the patients.  

Dr Lenard Cheng, Deputy Medical Director of the COVID-19 Treatment Facility @ F1 said: “The elderly are very attached to their homes and we want to create a more homely environment here for them. 

“Some of the patients may feel lonely and frustrated, so the words and phrases on the posters will help to provide encouragement as well as valuable advice during their time here.”

 Volunteers gathering at the F1 Pit Building before the start of the volunteer activity. (Photo by Chan May Ching)

 Tzu Ching youth volunteers also contributed in this activity through designing posters for everyone to leave their well-wishes on. (Photo by Chan May Ching)

Going Above and Beyond

While pasting posters and decorating the place might seem simple on paper, the reality is that a decent amount of effort and teamwork is still required to do a good job. To ensure this, volunteers could be seen going the extra mile to put up the Jing Si Aphorisms posters in a neat and tidy manner. Additionally, many of them who turned up had taken precious time off from work to help out.

“With the COVID-19 restrictions, it’s been a long time since we had a chance to give back to society. Thus, when the opportunity came about, I quickly went about applying my leave,” shared Ms Choy Sio Hoon, who works in finance. “We hope that with the pasting of the Jing Si Aphorisms posters, it will help to inject more vibrancy to this place.”

After a few hours of hard work, the premises were looking very different from before. There was undoubtedly more colour and vibrancy all around. What were previously cold and unfeeling wards were now areas brimming with life. While the initial intention was mainly focused on positively impacting the patients, there could also be a similar effect left on the medical staff on duty. Some of them who were there on that day were indeed impressed by the Jing Si Aphorisms.

“When we were pasting the posters, some of the doctors came over to read the Jing Si Aphorisms. They felt that the phrases were good and inspiring as it was something they had not thought of before,” said Mr Leong Kar Tsing, who is Tzu Chi Volunteer Development Department (VDD) executive in charge of this project.

The battle against COVID-19 has been a long and winding one. Even with high vaccination rates and strict restrictions in place, the end is not in sight just yet. Thus, it is even more crucial that aid is provided to safeguard the patients’ health both physically and mentally as they continue the fight against the virus. And in this instance, the volunteers of Tzu Chi has certainly stepped up to the plate to provide this much-needed help.    

Dr Cheng added: “This goes out to everyone, not just the patients and their families but also to those who are providing support. We are all in this together, and hopefully, we will emerge from this better as a community of love and concern for one another.”

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