For some of our patients like 74 year-old Mdm Koh Siew Yong, their deteriorating health has denied them their simple Chinese New Year wishes.
Coming from a poor family, Mdm Koh, who was the youngest of four children, recalled that the highlight of Chinese New Year reunion dinners was the “white cut chicken（白斩鸡）”. Her father would wrap a dollar or so in red paper and give them to the children as “red packets”, and it was enough to make them happy. After she grew up and started her own family, she was a housewife and would prepare reunion dishes like stir-fried pork belly with leek. However, her marriage failed when she was in her 30s. She often had to spend Chinese New Year alone. She still kept to the tradition of cleaning and making sure her place was spick and span, playing Chinese New Year songs and cooking herself a rare treat like sea cucumber. She said, “It happens only once a year, so no matter what, I would still celebrate it.”
However, she lost the ability to celebrate Chinese New Year in simple ways like spring cleaning or cooking something special for herself. Four years ago, she was diagnosed with Interstitial lung disease and had to stop working as a cleaner due to breathlessness. Her condition deteriorated gradually. Due to frequent giddiness and weakness in her legs, she had to depend on a walker to steady herself when she moved around. Staying alone in a two-room rental flat, she cooked simple porridge to settle her daily meals as she cannot stand for longer periods of time for more complicated cooking. She ventures out for grocery shopping only when needed.
We journey with Mdm Koh and bring her care and comfort as she faces her challenges. Mdm Koh came under the care of Assisi Hospice Day Care Centre in March 2019. Our doctors and nurses work closely to manage her symptoms, so that she can be as physically comfortable as possible. She benefits from the exercise and group therapy sessions, where our physiotherapists and occupational therapists optimised
her mobility and independence in daily living as much as possible. Our medical social workers offered emotional and psychosocial support, providing her a listening ear as she grappled with her deteriorating condition. During Chinese New Year last year, she received a Joy Pack of necessities and a reunion meal thanks to the generosity of the community.
Mdm Koh passed away peacefully on 29 August 22. 50% of Assisi Hospice’s patients are poorest of the poor and means tested to the lowest income level, and are in need of financial assistance. Bring care and festive cheer to patients like Mdm Koh here.