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Into the heat of battle Part 2 - Peter the Potions Master

​A fantasy game usually involves solving a problem, a little adventuring and maybe a little luck. But a constant theme throughout such a game is that there’s usually isn’t just one solitary hero. Rather, there’s usually a diverse group from all races and various backgrounds, all wanting to help, all with their own special skills and talents. Likewise, healthcare isn’t all about doctors and nurses. Allied health, management and administration professionals all play a big part too.

The Potions Master – Mr Peter Yap

Peter is the Pharmacy Practice Manager at the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS). He is usually found at the Level 3 Oncology Pharmacy where he is responsible for compounding sterile chemotherapy drugs to be administered to patients at the Ambulatory Treatment Unit (ATU) which is located on the same floor. He also reviews each patient’s medication to provide counselling about their treatment.

Aside from his duties, Peter is also currently involved in helping to plan pharmacy facilities in the new NCCS building. 

Outside of work, Peter is an avid reader and can often be found clutching a book during his free time. He also enjoys jogging which helps him to de-stress. He lives by the axiom “Dum Spiro, Spero” (While I breathe, I hope) and tries to live each day to its fullest.

It was this positive attitude that led Peter to respond to the call for volunteers to be part of the mobile medical teams attending to migrant workers living in the dormitories.

“I have enjoyed working with the various teams. My teammates are so willing to give all of their skills and time. No task is too small for them.” - Peter

Where are you currently posted to?
I was first posted to the dormitory in Penjuru (Jurong Penjuru 2 or JP2 for short) and after a month, I was transferred to the Swab Isolation Facility (SIF) at Concorde Hotel. However, I’ve been posted back to JP2 where I continue to provide pharmacy services to the workers who live in the dormitory.


                           Into the heat of battle: In full personal protective equipment (PPE), Peter

counsels a patient while dispensing medication.

What do you do in the dormitory?
I provide pharmacy services, mainly dispensing medication to the workers who come to the mobile clinic set up within the dormitory. The medication is used to treat symptoms of acute respiratory illness (ARI), as well as ailments like diarrhoea, constipation, aches and pain and rashes.

The clinic now handles workers with chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Some of the residents needed to obtain refills of their medication during their quarantine. As the pharmacist on site, I review their medication and assist in managing their condition, either through refills of their medication for chronic ailments, and/or to ensure that their conditions are being monitored.

Why did you step forward to volunteer?
There is a Latin phrase “si quis mihi” (if not me then who) which was one of the main reasons that I decided to step forward to help in whatever way that I could. Thankfully, my training and skills as a pharmacist were needed and I had the opportunity to set up the pharmacy at both JP2 as well as the SIF facility at Concorde Hotel.

Seventeen years ago, I was also able to do my bit during the SARS outbreak and found that it was such an enriching experience. This time round has been equally enriching, and I have enjoyed being a member of the different teams. At both posting locations, I found my teammates to be so willing to give all of their skills and time. No task is too small for them. The people who we serve, namely the migrant workers, have been very warm and receptive to the services which we have been able to provide for them.

“I have realised how difficult it must be to be far away from your loved ones, to be able to communicate only virtually.”- Peter

Peter carefully prepares medication for patients. Some of the residents needed

to obtain refills of their medication for chronic conditions during their quarantine

How is the experience like? Were there any particularly memorable incidents?
This experience has been humbling. Prior to this, I had never been to any of the migrant workers’ dormitories and like most Singaporeans, all I understood about the dormitories was from media reports.

Many of the workers are overwhelmed by what is going on around them. Nonetheless they understand and realise the severity of the situation, and do all they can to abide by the law. Most of them are more concerned about their families and friends, than they are about themselves.

One particular example that struck me was a Bangladeshi worker who I met a few times. He had ARI symptoms but he was more concerned about making sure that his salary would be credited so that he would be able to remit the money back home to Bangladesh. This is because his family and both sets of grandparents all rely on the money he sends home for their day-to-day needs. Despite our assurances, he was also concerned that he would be sent home if he tested positive for COVID-19. It was relief all round when we told him that he tested negative for the virus.

“Every little bit that we do for each other, can and will make a difference to all of us” – Peter

Did you feel you gained or learned something from this experience?
While this pandemic is creating a new way of life for all of us, it has shown me how lucky I am. It is so difficult to be far away from your loved ones and only be able to communicate virtually.

I have also learnt that every little bit we do matters and we should to be grateful for the little things in life. In the end, family, friends, and good health are what matters most. Like many Singaporeans, I have not had much deep interaction with the people who clear my trash, build my home, clean the streets and cut the grass but I am really thankful for their presence here. From my experiences with the migrant workers in the dormitories, I know that they truly appreciate what we are doing for them in return.

The people I have had the honour and pleasure to work with have shown me what it means to care. It may sound like a cliché, but every little bit that we do for each other, can and will make a difference to all of us.