Retired healthcare workers lend a helping hand at Bukit Jalil vaccination centre

·4-min read
Vaccine recipients rest after receiving the injection at the vaccination centre (PPV) in Bukit Jalil June 27, 2021. ―  Picture by Hari Anggara
Vaccine recipients rest after receiving the injection at the vaccination centre (PPV) in Bukit Jalil June 27, 2021. ― Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, July 4 — Even at 69, Ong Hoon Luan, a retired nurse, is still eager to contribute her expertise, especially during this Covid-19 pandemic.

Ong, who has worked as a nurse since 1975, said her knowledge on administering vaccine injections is still vivid.

“Administering shots or vaccine doses to a patient is something we do regularly on a daily basis.

“It is a skill you will never forget after working in the medical sector for close to 40 years,” Ong told Malay Mail during a recent interview at the Bukit Jalil vaccination centre.

When Ong heard about the vaccination centre project by NGT Healthcare and was invited to participate, she jumped at the chance to join the private-public mass vaccination initiative.

It will be two days per week (Saturday and Sunday) that Ong will be volunteering at the vaccination centre, while on the weekdays, she will be spending time with her grandchildren.

“I have already applied for my APC. You need to have that to practise,” she said, referring to the annual practice certificate.

“So I will be helping the other medical professionals here administer vaccines, once my APC is ready — that is most likely next week,” she added.

Volunteer Ong Hoon Luan speaks to Malay Mail at the vaccination centre (PPV) in Bukit Jalil June 27, 2021. ―  Picture by Hari Anggara
Volunteer Ong Hoon Luan speaks to Malay Mail at the vaccination centre (PPV) in Bukit Jalil June 27, 2021. ― Picture by Hari Anggara

When asked if she was concerned about her safety since her age falls under the high-risk group, Ong recounted how back in the day, she had to work with minimal safety equipment throughout multiple health crises in the country but still managed to stay safe.

“Of course, I’m still scared, even though you’re vaccinated. But we are nurses from those days, we’re not scared.

“Back then, technology wasn’t as advanced as today. I remember being in the labour room, and sometimes, we had to deliver babies with our bare hands when an emergency occurred.

“It was only later that we had gloves. So with this Covid-19 pandemic, I’m quite prepared,” she said.

Ong added that although she has been vaccinated, she would still be cautious about standard operating procedures.

While Ong awaits her APC, her husband, M. Selvarajan has started consulting patients at the vaccination centre.

“My husband, he’s a diabetic counsellor, so talking to patients has become more than just a job.

“It is now his hobby to counsel patients,” she said.

Volunteer M. Selvarajan is pictured at the vaccination centre (PPV) in Bukit Jalil June 27, 2021. ―  Picture by Hari Anggara
Volunteer M. Selvarajan is pictured at the vaccination centre (PPV) in Bukit Jalil June 27, 2021. ― Picture by Hari Anggara

Selvarajan, 74, is a former medical assistant, and he expressed how he too was eager to share his 36 years’ worth of experience at the vaccination centre.

“After retirement, I was given an extended contract for another 10 years.

“I ran a diabetic clinic after and so when I heard about this opportunity to be working on the ground again, I couldn’t miss it,” he said when met at the vaccination centre.

Selvarajan’s past volunteer work experience came in handy as it offered him an opportunity to meet people from all walks of life while offering medical services to those who could not afford medical care.

“I just enjoy sharing my knowledge with patients, especially during this Covid-19 period, when many people are in need of moral support,” he said when met during an interview at the Bukit Jalil vaccination centre.

According to Selvarajan, it was also his experience dealing with past health crises which hit the country, including cholera, typhoid, diphtheria and TB outbreaks, which gave him more confidence to play his role as a consultant.

“It isn’t about getting their consent to be vaccinated but ensuring that they understand why they have made the decision to be vaccinated.

“Many who came had many questions as they were worried about their health, some had asthma, and they wanted to know if their condition could cope with the vaccine.

“At the same time, I asked them to ask questions too, and after clarifying, they felt much better and confident about being vaccinated,” he said.

Selvarajan, who only started volunteering at the vaccination centre for a few days, said he has already seen the fruits of his labour as he sent confident individuals off for their vaccination.

“It has been very encouraging to see vaccination candidates who came here and returned home with a thorough understanding of their health concerns.

“Having been vaccinated myself, I can share some experiences of the process I went through and it helps to boost their confidence, which, in turn, eventually convinces family members who are still undecided about the vaccination programme,” he added.

The Bukit Jalil Stadium opened its doors for the first time as a mega vaccination centre on June 21.

In the weeks to come, the target number of vaccination doses deployed will be 10,000.

Due to the size of the venue, only those aged 45 and below have been assigned to this vaccination centre.

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