Home » Uncategorized » Extraordinary Persons: The seventy two-12 months-outdated nurse who ‘just needs to be a very good human being’

Extraordinary Persons: The seventy two-12 months-outdated nurse who ‘just needs to be a very good human being’

SINGAPORE: With her short hair, black semi-rimless eyeglasses and petite frame, Madam Susheela K Chugani cuts a familiar determine at the Institute of Psychological Well being (IMH).

Soon after all, the female that many get in touch with Sister Susheela has spent the earlier 23 yrs tending to the demands of sufferers at the clinic.

In spite of getting well earlier her retirement age, the seventy two-12 months-outdated, who has been in nursing for a lot more than fifty yrs, continues to perform entire time at the prolonged-keep psychogeriatric ward in IMH.

Age, in accordance to Mdm Chugani, is not a restricting component when it comes to caring for sufferers. For one of her dementia sufferers who has mobility problems, Mdm Chugani will hold her shoulders as she attempts to stroll all through remedy sessions.

“The 1st time I did it, my patient requested: ‘You so outdated you, nonetheless want to hold me?’ and I replied: ‘Yes, let’s go. If I can, you can do it also.’”

For another patient who refused to put on clothes and would slumber bare in his possess urine, Mdm Chugani insisted on bathing and apparel him each day. She would also treat him to his favorite you char kway (fried dough fritters) as she educated him to put on clothes and use the rest room.

Within months, the patient began to exhibit symptoms of advancement and would say “Good morning” to Mdm Chugani when she comes at the ward.

“I expend a good deal of time conversing to them and I make certain I explain to them each day that getting sick is not the end of the globe,” reported the senior workers nurse. “I explain to them to make up their mind that they are going to get well and stroll out of the clinic. There is often hope.”


Getting a nurse was an ambition that Mdm Chugani had for as prolonged as she could don’t forget. Though researching at the Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ College, she joined the St John Ambulance Brigade and recalled getting “very excited” each time she wore her uniform.

“I liked going to the sports meet up with and situations like that. You get to have a 1st help kit and be on stand-by. Though waiting around, I would pretend to do so many matters,” she reported with a chuckle.

Soon after her O-Ranges, she determined it was time to change her aspiration into fact but her father, who had been hoping for Mdm Chugani to join the family organization, tore up her task software kind.

“Back in those people times, if your father runs a organization, you will perform in the family retailer and then hold out to get married.”

But the feisty elder baby of 7 siblings did not give up. Noticing another newspaper ad contacting for nurses, youthful Mdm Chugani determined to seek out the enable of her father’s finest buddy, who offered his home tackle for her software kind.

This time round, Mdm Chugani scored the task at the Singapore Normal Healthcare facility (SGH). Her father was furious.

“He reported: ‘You want to disgrace me … If I understood you’d be so stubborn, I would have killed you,” she recalled. “Whatever my father reported, I held silent simply because from youthful, we had been informed not to discuss back to our father. But in my coronary heart, I understood what I preferred to do.”

And even right after Mdm Chugani started out perform, her father nonetheless had hopes that his eldest daughter would shortly give up due to the difficult nature of the task.

“At that time, my father had just been by way of a fistulotomy. The nurses had to shave his non-public areas and he considered: ‘How can my daughter do that? Absolutely, she will not be equipped to acquire it.’ So he considered I’ll depart in three months.”

Madam Chugani started out her nursing career at the Singapore Normal Healthcare facility in the 1960s.

But Mdm Chugani stayed on, drawing toughness from self-enable guide “Think And Develop Rich” prepared by American writer Napoleon Hill in 1937.

“One factor I remembered was that the moment you make up your mind, no one can stop you,” she reported.

Her 1st stint was at the female ward in SGH – a place she nonetheless has fond reminiscences of. She remembered attending to many bad sufferers who would be admitted into clinic in “filthy conditions”. Together with other nurses, Mdm Chugani would bathe and cloth them.

Smiling as she reminisced about the earlier, she reported: “When I noticed them all clear and at ease, I’d be so delighted. They had been often so appreciative and ready to say thank you.”

That was in the 1960s when nurses had to clean and sterilise glass syringes, as well as produce up patient stories by hand most of the time. This comes on prime of primary duties these types of as having temperatures and dressing wounds.

It was difficult perform but Mdm Chugani under no circumstances regretted her conclusion to enter nursing. “I am often delighted. Even if I have any concerns, I will forget about them simply because when I’m perform, it is just me and my patient.”

This continues to be the case when she was posted to IMH, then known as the Woodbridge Healthcare facility, in 1994. Prior to that, she had moved from SGH to other overall health institutions like the KK Women’s and Children’s Healthcare facility, Tan Tock Seng Healthcare facility, as well as the Communicable Disorders Centre.

Not realizing what to expect at the mental clinic, Mdm Chugani admitted that she felt “apprehensive” at first so she turned to what she trusted the most – guides.

“I went to the library and started out looking at up. The a lot more I read through, the a lot more attention-grabbing I obtain the human mind,” she reported.

“Do you know how significantly these sufferers have to go by way of when they see matters that are not there or hear matters that other men and women do not? If you know, you will study how to value whatsoever you have and I informed myself that I will have to enable these men and women to get well.”

An avid reader, Madam Chugani drew toughness from guides to conquer her father’s objections and allay initial fears about getting to be a psychiatric nurse.. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)

About the earlier two many years of operating in the a variety of wards at IMH, Mdm Chugani figured out how finest to interact with sufferers and has her possess way to serene even the most agitated types.

“My sufferers are gorgeous men and women and they are not tricky at all,” she reported carefully, introducing that she prefers to tackle her sufferers by title. “If I do not know their names, I’ll get in touch with them brother or sister. As soon as you construct a rapport with them, they will respect you and will not hurt you.

“I’ve been in this article so many yrs and not the moment have I been abused verbally or physically,” she emphasised.

Mdm Chugani also attempts to rationalise with her sufferers. She remembered a patient who became very upset right after getting diagnosed with schizophrenia right after his A-Ranges. For months, Mdm Chugani tried out coaxing him to acquire medication.

“I informed him: ‘You are better than me. I only have O-Ranges (but) I’ve worked really hard. You make up your mind, comply with the guidelines of the physician and explain to by yourself that you are going to get better.’”

7 yrs on, the patient has because recovered and sends Mdm Chugani a thank-you card each Nurses’ Working day and Christmas Working day. “This presents me the fulfillment that I’m accomplishing my task well and would make me want to do a lot more,” she reported.

A thank-you card from Madam Chugani’s patient.


Through the study course of her perform, there had been undoubtedly a lot less-than-enjoyable times but Mdm Chugani reported she continually reminds herself how blessed she is to have identified her passion so early in everyday living.

However, she is not oblivious to the problems of psychiatric nursing and has satisfied more youthful health care employees who have considered of contacting it quits.

“But I explain to them if I’m nonetheless in this article, why are you leaving?”

But she does not think her conclusion to perform in the mental clinic would make her a uncommon breed. About the yrs, she reported there have been a lot more attempts to increase awareness for mental overall health and there are more youthful nurses who choose a career in psychiatric nursing.

“Last time when I informed men and women I was operating at Woodbridge, they will stare at me and go ‘Huh?’ but I do not think it is like that now.”

And it appears that Mdm Chugani’s ever-burning passion has not just been a morale booster for her sufferers, but also for her more youthful co-employees.

Multi-skill remedy assistant Ong Hui Ting, who partners Mdm Chugani in work out programmes, reported there are times when she feels discouraged. “But no matter how drained she is and how drained I am, she will often be the one stating ‘Come on Hui Ting, let’s get this carried out!’ It’s an infinite positivity that she presents off.”

Photos of Madam Chugani and her co-employees at IMH. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)

For Mdm Chugani, her partner and two children have been her pillars of guidance. Even her father also arrived round to accepting her career alternative.

“He was seriously delighted that I was a nurse when he bought sick. He was in SGH and he informed the physician that his daughter is a nursing officer at KK,” she recalled.

“When I reached the clinic, it was the 1st in a prolonged time that he called me ‘my child’. I often felt that he doesn’t exhibit me as significantly appreciate as he does to my other siblings but from then on, (our marriage) bought significantly better,” Mdm Chugani reported, breaking out into a large smile.

Even however her partner has been egging her to retire, the energetic grandmother of three does not have options to depart nursing for now.

“I want to have a objective in everyday living,” she reported.

The veteran nurse was specified the Extraordinary Nurse Award at the IMH Nurses’ Working day celebration past 12 months and received the Ministry of Health’s Nurses Benefit Award in 2005.

But for her, despite the recognition she has received and the respect she will get from colleagues, she said she has merely been accomplishing her task.

“A good deal of men and women forget about why we occur to this globe. For me, I just want to be a very good human getting and enable whoever I can.” 

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