Coronavirus: Showing love for healthcare workers through free coffee and messages of support

Wan Ting Koh
·3-min read
A screenshot of the Ray of Hope campaign page which seeks to raise funds to buy coffee for healthcare workers at Tan Tock Seng Hospital.
A screenshot of the Ray of Hope campaign page which seeks to raise funds to buy coffee for healthcare workers at Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

SINGAPORE — Healthcare workers in Singapore are at the frontline battling the novel coronavirus outbreak and several individuals are showing appreciation for their efforts through initiatives to give them free cups of coffee and messages along with food items.

Among them is Julie Chen, a former healthcare worker who co-started one such initiative on Sunday (9 February). Her fundraising call to treat the healthcare workers from Tan Tock Seng Hospital and (TTSH) and Ng Teng Fong Hospital (NTFH) to free cups of coffee from The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf outlet in TTSH and the Starbucks outlet in NTFH has raised more than $4,000 so far.

About 540 cups of coffee from the beverage chains have been claimed by the hospital staff.

In a Facebook post on the Dog Run for Tiong Bahru group, Chen, 26, said on Monday, “The healthcare workers, many (of whom) have worked over 100 hours this week, many (of whom) cannot go back to their babies after that, and have had their holidays cancelled, are so so so touched (by the offer of free coffee).”

The strong response has prompted Chen to set up a campaign page on the Ray of Hope platform on Tuesday to appeal for more funds for the same purpose, with a target of $15,000. She hopes to expand the initiative to other hospitals.

Speaking to Yahoo News Singapore on Tuesday, Nurhayati, a senior patient service associate at TTSH, said that she found out about the initiative from a work group chat on Monday.

The 38-year-old had claimed a free drink with a colleague from The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf outlet, and initially assumed it was a treat from the chain.

“Only after, we found out it’s from a very generous donor. A lot of TTSH staff got the treat. (We) truly appreciate the kind gesture,” said Nurhayati.

Nurhayati and her colleague each received a free coffee from The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. Photo from Nurhayati Yusof
Nurhayati Yusof and her colleague each received a free coffee from The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

A separate initiative on the StandUpFor.SG Facebook page by a trio aims to spread words of encouragement by getting printout notes along with snacks and drinks delivered to the healthcare workers.

Wally Tham, Khee Shihui and Chong Yan Bing, who started the initiative with the hashtag #braveheartsg last weekend, had initially wanted members of public to be involved by sending in notes to hospitals personally. But they had decided otherwise due to concerns over potential infection.

“So we decided that they will be submitted electronically and we would print out and give canned drinks and snacks (with the accompanying messages),” said Tham, a 42-year-old corporate consultant and filmmaker.

The trio have been in talks with hospitals and companies who have offered help for the initiative. They are also seeking sponsors who can print out the notes and deliver the food and drinks to the healthcare workers.

Thus far, they have received hundreds of messages through social media and emails, said Tham.

He added that the trio are still working out a way to deliver the items to healthcare workers and hope to do so on Valentine’s Day.

“We don’t want to go into the wards and we don’t want to compromise their safety and risk infection,” he said.

Thanking Chen for the gesture, Nurhayati said she and the other healthcare workers are just doing their job. She highlighted a more pertinent concern for them as they battle the outbreak.

“We just hope the public does not shun or discriminate healthcare workers.”

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