Dr Chong’s Good Advice

Meet Dr Chong Poh Heng, Medical Director of HCA Hospice Care. With a passion for pediatric work while harbouring a gift for comforting patients, he has since decided to marry his gifts into devoting his life into his work at HCA Hospice Care.

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF IN 1 LINE.

I’m a ‘happy slave’ that is willing to devote and surrender my time to work until I’m spent and tired. In other words, I’m a vehicle of blessings in channeling my gifts from one patient to another. That’s who I choose to be, to serve – rather than to be on the receiving end.

TELL US SOMETHING MOST PEOPLE MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU.

I have a fascination for flowers – orchids in particular. I always wanted to be a botanist when I was in my teenage years, but unfortunately there wasn’t any course available to pursue then. The reason I’m attached to orchids, are due to the vast amount of species available and how they form surprising hybrids when ‘families’ meet. Particularly, I like the smaller and less showy, lighter coloured orchids and those with fragrances. While walking on streets, my eyes immediately drifts to the different types of flowers that are flowering. I believe there is beauty in little things that people may not notice, in which I carry that into the philosophy I hold at work. It is important to note that when people are shrivelling or being reduced to their illness; there is still beauty beneath what we can’t see.

WHAT’S THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?

I would say the best piece of advice would be from my mentor from Melbourne. I met my mentor when I was still owning a clinic in GP, to see what was the work life there like and to see how big the gap was. Based on my observation from the children there, I had the sense that there were a group of children that weren’t receiving enough care. I then had conversations about my aspirations with my mentor and although she used a very cliché phrase, it was one of the prompt I needed to propel me to make a decision, which was – ‘just do it’.

TELL US ABOUT A TIME WHEN THIS PIECE OF ADVICE CAME IN USEFUL.                      

There was this child that I’ve looked after since he was a baby, who was down withhad severe advanced cancer. I managed to go with my mentor to visit this child at home and realised that this was someone I knew and looked after for some time. At the age of 5, he was dying of cancer and was screaming and crying in pain. I felt those were cries of helplessness, apart from the physical pain itself. He was surrounded by his loved ones, whom all of whom which I knew very well. I felt that we had a connection together, even when he was crying on the occasions that I visited him. Perhaps, he felt that I was the only one who could bear his crying. On the second occasion of visiting him, he was playing with an art therapist; when he suddenly picked up 2 stickers and gave it to me. At that point of time, I was still considering if I should let go of my GP clinic to pursue my current scope. He was very quiet when he picked up those 2 stickers while passing them to me. One says ‘The Best’ and the other says ‘You are the one’. That to me felt like the signal I needed for me to go ahead and do what I need to do and to – ‘just do it’.

Want to find out more about his story? Stay tuned to his full interview and follow the Facebook page here to find out more about what The Good Death is all about!

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