Ex-Nurse Sees Discrimination Of Covid-19 Frontliners & Starts Support Group To Help Them

It’s easy to forget that this isn’t Singapore’s first pandemic.

Lanie Tang, 35, an ex-nurse who worked at Singapore General Hospital (SGH) during the height of the SARS outbreak, worked through that pandemic while watching society shift its behaviour towards healthcare workers for the worse.

Image courtesy of Lanie Tang (right)

When Covid-19 hit, history started to repeat itself, with members of the public actively shunning and showing disdain towards healthcare workers.

Seeing this, she was reminded of the public’s reception during the SARS outbreak and decided she won’t let that happen again. She started a support group that helps eradicate the discrimination against healthcare workers.

Ms Tang started initiatives like gathering drivers to transport healthcare workers from their workplaces and providing care packages for hospitals.

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Together with her support group, she aims to help the different sections of society who have suffered from Covid-19.

Ex-nurse established Everyday Heroes SG to help frontliners

Everyday Heroes SG is a support group created by Ms Tang in Feb 2020. Aimed at supporting the frontline medical personnel, the group’s first agenda was tackling the issue of transport. 

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Speaking with MS News, Ms Tang drummed up plans of providing transport options for frontliners after she read an article on a Grab driver allegedly refusing to pick up anyone in uniforms from any of Singapore’s hospitals. 

“There were a lot of articles on discrimination against nurses and healthcare workers. Although it lasted for only a short while, the discrimination was horrible.

“So when Covid-19 arrived, the same things happened. Now looking at the situation as an ex-nurse, what can we do to bring this discrimination away?” she reflected. 

Her first initiative led to GrabCare service

With the Covid-19 pandemic affecting some sectors of the economy more than others, drivers were also severely impacted. They were the collateral damage that came from a lack of tourism and a general drop in travel. 

To help them safeguard their rice bowl, Ms Tang started the Hero Driver initiative by gathering a pioneer batch of 10 drivers to facilitate the transport of healthcare workers.

She also took the chance to guide them on the proper disinfecting etiquette. 

Although the response was heartening, personal protective equipment and disinfectants sponsored through donations were running low, so she had to find a way to elevate the initiative. 

That’s when Ms Tang approached Grab, where she introduced the concept of the initiative to them. With their fleet of 2,000 drivers, Ms Tang was hopeful that they would’ve done a better job on a bigger scale.

As a result, GrabCare was born—a new dedicated on-demand service from Grab for travel to and from hospitals. What was once done for free is now a payable job. 

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And that was incredibly important to note as drivers alike struggled to make ends meet during the lockdown.

So, when drivers refused healthcare personnel by choice, they were now faced with a dilemma that affected their livelihoods. 

While it did its primary objective of transporting workers, Ms Tang feels that it also helped fend off a level of discrimination against healthcare personnel.

Care package deliveries caught AIC’s attention

After handing off the reigns of transport matters to Grab, Ms Tang set up one of the first support groups to hand out care packages to healthcare workers. 

She gathered sponsors through various radio appearances and interviews. After listening to her story, they readily provided hand creams, food, or anything that can be remotely useful for the workers. 

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With a heap of kind donations, they managed to assemble 5,000 care packs. Joined by the OG 10 drivers from Hero Driver’s pioneer batch, they travelled around Singapore and dropped off their packages to the various medical institutions. 

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After more rounds of care packages and interviews, the group grew in size. More drivers volunteered to do their part in the fight against Covid-19. 

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Their reputation grew, and with that, Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) approached them to help with a notable request.

Temasek Foundation, known for its mass distribution of essential items, had contacted AIC to help distribute disinfectants to various nursing homes. 

However, as AIC did not have the logistical infrastructure needed to complete the request, AIC approached Everyday Heroes SG to complete it in their stead.

Ms Tang then used her planning prowess to coordinate the distribution between parties, all in the name of the greater good. 

Ex-nurse aims to help more from different age groups

As the last batch of disinfectants got dropped off, Ms Tang was off to her next project. Speaking with MS News, she says that they’re actively going through age groups and picking out pain points that each of them are facing.

As the pandemic holds no hostages, everyone and anyone can feel the strain that the past 18 months has placed on them. Therefore, they’re employing a top-down approach by starting with the elderly and moving downwards towards the children. 

Citing the recent RVHS incident as an example, she feels that the general populace is experiencing much more struggles beyond the surface.

Although the notion of speaking about these feelings have improved, there is still so much that can be done to incite these conversations normally. 

Ms Tang continues her excellent work with Everyday Heroes SG today. With measures being lifted according to vaccination rates, she hopes it’ll help expedite her initiatives quickly. 

You can find out more about her initiatives here.

Learn from past experiences & make a change

One can always draw something from experience. Whether it’s know-how or a story to tell, it’ll always provide great insight into any predicament. 

As an ex-nurse, Ms Lanie’s first hand-experience with discrimination has spurred her into action. Her strong feelings of injustice have bloomed into something far greater.

She also recognises the privilege she has enjoyed, knowing that others have had it worse during the pandemic. With that, she lobbies to help the maligned through the various projects she has incepted. 

Kudos to Ms Tang and the team at Everyday Heroes SG for their thoughtful initiatives. We all can take a page out of her book—to never rest on our laurels and actively make a positive change in our society.

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Featured image courtesy of Lanie Tang.