AS AN enrolled nurse at Thomson Medical Centre (TMC), Ms Hawa Bebe Hydrose, or Bebe as she is known, helps to deliver babies.
She also has to admit patients, care for mothers and their newborns, initiate skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding after birth, and transfer mothers and babies to the post-natal wards.
Bebe, 52, makes it a point to visit the patients she looked after in the delivery suite.
Her passion for caring for people was ignited when she was 17. Her father had sustained serious injuries in a road accident— broken ribs, leg and wrist — and she had to quit school to be his sole caregiver.
She recalls: “During my visits to the hospital, I was inspired by the amount of care my father received during his stay, and that spurred me to pursue nursing.
“It was a way to give back to the community.”
In 1984, she began as a healthcare assistant in a medical ward in another hospital, but decided to switch to TMC in 1987 as she was drawn to its cheerful environment.
“A happy hospital that celebrates life every day” is how she describes it.
Six years ago, with TMC’s support and sponsorship, she earned her enrolled nurse certification.
For her continuous good work, she received the Healthcare Humanity Award in 2016 and the Ministry of Health Nurses’ Merit Award 2017.
Nurses are awarded the latter for their consistent and outstanding performance for three consecutive years, for participating in professional development, and for making contributions to promote the nursing profession.
And that’s not all — to date, she has received seven Thomson Angel Awards, awarded by TMC to recognise exemplary staff.
From nurse to patient
In December 2015, Bebe was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. The single mother of two sons initially refused chemotherapy because she has thrombocytopenia, or low platelet count in the blood.
This means that her blood cannot clot easily and she can experience severe bleeding that may be fatal.
Chemotherapy could further lower her platelet production and lead to more side effects.
But with the encouragement of her oncologist, Bebe decided to undergo treatment.
Last year, she went for 17 sessions of chemotherapy from February to August, followed by a mastectomy in October and breast reconstruction surgery.
Despite her serious health problems, her unwavering fighting spirit pushed her to continue making a difference in others’ lives.
She signed up as a volunteer with the Singapore Cancer Society and gave encouragement to one of her oncologist’s patients, who was going through the same ordeal as her.
Bebe says: “I shared my experience with her and showed her how well I was healing. She became convinced after that.
“She texted me after her surgery to tell me how happy she was. I cherish such opportunities to help and inspire others.”
What drives her
Passion, interest and compassion are important qualities nurses need to succeed, says Bebe.
They also need to know how to stay calm under pressure, especially when decisions must be made in a medical emergency.
Nurses must be well equipped with medical knowledge and skills, she says, adding that she intends to enrol for a Diploma of Nursing course in the near future.
TMC is her second home. She shares a strong camaraderie with her colleagues and has strong support from her patients, even after they are discharged from hospital.
The support from doctors and the management has kept her with TMC all these years.
Her supervisor, Sister Voon, describes her as a “positive force, who touches the lives of patients, doctors and even colleagues”.
It is clear that Bebe has a jolly demeanour and an infectious sense of humour that diffuses the stressful environment in the delivery suite.
The most memorable event in her three decades of being a nurse?
“Apart from hearing the babies’ first cries and witnessing new lives being brought into this world, the greatest moment was when I assisted my daughter in-law when she was in labour.
That was especially magical and heartwarming,” she says.