Serving at the COVID-19 Frontline

Updated: Jun 8

by Alicia Tan

COVID-19 has brought forth unprecedented risks and disruption. But amidst the challenges, modern-day heroes have bravely stepped forward to help bring our country out of the crisis. Loaves+Fishes speak to two CCMC members – Daryl Tam and Wong Kirk Chuan – who are serving at the COVID-19 frontline.


Wong Kirk Chuan (left) and Daryl Tam (right) at the Singapore Expo community care facility.

In April this year, as the number of infections in Singapore continued to climb, the Ministry of Health established a second community isolation facility at the Singapore Expo. The facility accommodates Covid-19 patients who have milder symptoms or are recovering but may still be infectious, so that hospitals can be freed up to care for patients who need more significant medical attention.

Six exhibition halls at the Singapore Expo were converted for this purpose. SAF servicemen and staff from Woodlands Health Campusworked closely with healthcare and corporate partners to set up and manage the facility.

Daryl is Senior Lieutenant Colonel at the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and Commander of the SAF Team at the Singapore Expo Community Care Facility. He is married to Josephine, and they are parents to Danielle, 15, and Jamie, 13. They have been worshipping in CCMC since 2010.

Kirk Chuan is Chief Operating Officer for Population Health at the National Healthcare Group, and concurrently Chief Operating Officer of the upcoming Woodlands Health Campus (WHC) integrated hospital facility slated to open in 2022. He is married to Jeannie, and they are parents to Natasha, 15, and Matthew, who will turn 10 in December. They have been worshipping in CCMC since 2003.


Daryl Tam

Daryl Tam


L+F: Tell us about your work for COVID-19 and your role.

Daryl: We were given about five days to get ready to provide medical support to over 1,800 Covid-19 patients in Halls 5 and 6 in Singapore Expo. It was a challenging task but we worked closely with Woodlands Health Campus and our other partners to begin operations on 22 April.

I am the Commander of the SAF Team at Singapore Expo. I lead more than 100 personnel from the SAF providing 24/7 medical support to the patients in Halls 5 and 6. We work closely with our healthcare partners from Ministry of Health, Woodlands Health Campus and Singhealth. Other partners include Singex, Resorts World Sentosa, Certis, Surbana Jurong, Integrated Health Information Systems (IHIS), Temeasek Holdings, Parkway Pantai and ST Engineering.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." - Joshua 1:9

L+F: What were/are the challenges, if any?


Daryl: It’s challenging being away from the family so I treasure the moments when I can video chat with them every night. When I don the protective gear to go into the halls, I am also reminded of the challenges of the environment that my team operates in. But I know I am safe because of the processes that we have established and more importantly, everyone watches out for each other. 


To keep me going, I lean on Joshua 1:9 - "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."


L+F: What are the highlights?

Daryl: The thank yous that we receive. The joy of seeing our patients getting better. The hope that what we do is in some way helping Singapore to get better.

Daryl Tam (left) at the Singapore Expo CCF.

L+F: How did your family feel about you being in the frontline? 

Daryl: Initially, Danielle did ask about the potential hazards. But as she, Jamie and Jo better understood the measures that we had established, they became more assured.

L-R: Danielle, Jo, Daryl and Jamie.



Kirk Chuan (right) with his colleague at the Singapore Expo CCF.

Wong Kirk Chuan


L+F: Tell us about your work for COVID-19 and your role.

Kirk Chuan: When the COVID-19 virus surfaced around end 2019/early 2020, my team and I kept close tabs on the unfolding situation in the world. What seemed like a remote news event occurring overseas soon became a quickly impending local reality, and our emergency preparedness teams continued preparing our response plans to ensure we react swiftly to any changes in needs of manpower resourcing, safety and welfare of the WHC family. 

In the meantime, our WHC team of doctors, nurses and allied health professionals, together with those in support and administrative roles, continued to be deployed within NHG’s hospitals, including Khoo Teck Puat Hospital and Tan Tock Seng Hospital. Many were caring for COVID-19 patients, and supporting screening work at NCID, when the numbers of positive cases climbed. We were eventually tasked to plan and operationalise the clinical aspects of Community Care Facilities (CCF) for patients with mild symptoms and lower risk factors, at D’Resort NTUC and the Singapore Expo.

L+F: What were/are the challenges, if any?

Kirk Chuan: The CCF at Expo was set up in a record time of 5 days to support the national efforts to manage the situation at the workers’ dormitories. Many parties from private to public sectors stepped up to contribute to this massive effort including MOH, Temasek Holdings, Parkway Pantai, SingEx, Surbana Jurong, Resorts World Sentosa, Certis Cisco, NHG Diagnostics, SATA Community Health, MOHT and IHiS. Volunteers from the private sector, Health Promotion Board, National Skin Centre, Institute of Mental Health, Thomson Medical Centre, and other agencies and organisations (such as the SAF Medical Corps) have also contributed manpower, equipment or resources.


Many times, when we were putting together our team, equipment and plans for the COVID-19 response, I couldn’t help but wonder how things were falling into place so quickly! And as a result, I am often reminded to keep thanking God for his guidance and strength, and his interventions!


One of my favourite verses which I carry with me, is Proverbs 3:5-6, and very often when I’m faced with issues I don’t fully know the answer to, I turn to this verse and say a prayer, and then carry on.


"It is inspiring to see the dedication and teamwork demonstrated by each and every one, whether as a doctor or nurse, operations manager, or security personnel."

L+F: What are the highlights?

Kirk Chuan: From the medical set-up of the facility, recruiting additional doctors and nurses to augment the team, working with many different partners to ensure the smooth operations of the facility and ensuring the welfare, health and safety of the teams at CCF, it has been a memorable journey and I am glad to have been a part of this effort.

It is inspiring to see the dedication and teamwork demonstrated by each and every one, whether as a doctor or nurse, operations manager, or security personnel. Many members of the public and organisations have also shown their appreciation in many ways, and we are grateful for the regular treats, food, beverages, masks and many more that are sent to us!

L+F: How did your family feel about you being in the frontline? 

Kirk Chuan: My wife was very supportive of the work we were doing at the CCFs, and as a public servant herself, she also played her part in the national response, in the tourism/economic sector of government. If there were concerns on her part, she didn’t show it to me! My elderly dad and mum were of course more expressive of their concerns, but they never once voiced any resistance in my role at the Expo. In fact, all I got from them was full support.


L-R: Natasha, Matthew, Kirk Chuan and Jeannie.
Kirk Chuan's son Matthew with his parents who are fully supportive of his work at the frontline. He is trying to get them to accept Christ.


Editor's note:

All 10 halls at the Singapore Expo were finally converted for community care, with four halls (7-10) operated by the Singapore General Hospital. About 8,000 COVID-19 patients are being managed at the facility between WHC, SAF and SGH.


Useful links:

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/100-soldiers-from-saf-medical-corps-deployed-to-care-for-covid-19-patients-at-singapore

https://mothership.sg/2020/04/expo-singapore-armed-forces-covid-19/

https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/some-nsmen-clock-longer-ict-cycle-care-1800-covid-19-patients-singapore-expo

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