Celebrating dads

Father-son duo look out for patients, each other

Patient relations associate Sa'adon Tunot and his radiographer son Syaiful Sa'adon share a close relationship both at home (above, left) and at work at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (above). PHOTOS: COURTESY OF SA'ADON TUNOT, SYAIFUL SA'ADON
Patient relations associate Sa'adon Tunot and his radiographer son Syaiful Sa'adon share a close relationship both at home and at work at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (above). PHOTOS: COURTESY OF SA'ADON TUNOT, SYAIFUL SA'ADON

In the spirit of Father’s Day, The Straits Times celebrates the efforts of healthcare workers who have been great role models to their children, and the father-son duos who are exceptional in the nation’s fight against Covid-19.

Mr Syaiful Sa'adon is a radiographer. Mr Sa'adon Tunot is a patient relations associate, managing visitor flow at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital's emergency department.

The father-and-son duo have been working together for four years now.

Having always shared a close relationship both at home and at work, their bond is now stronger than ever as they find themselves at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19.

"I feel comfortable telling my dad how my day went and the problems that I faced, knowing that he'll understand," said 29-year-old Mr Syaiful, who takes chest X-rays and CT scans for suspected or confirmed Covid-19 cases to check for signs of pneumonia.

"Having such a reassuring presence motivates me to press on through this uncertain and difficult period."

He also sees trauma and emergency patients, such as those who are injured in road accidents.

But no matter how challenging work can get for him, it is his father's little acts of love that help him get through even the worst of days.

"It's like I'm still a big baby in his eyes. He checks in on me to make sure I've eaten and taken enough rest during my shift," said Mr Syaiful, who works 12-hour shifts for two days in a row at a time. "Especially during this time, he reminds me to stay vigilant and hydrated."

The younger man said he feels "a deep sense of pride" seeing his 55-year-old father on duty, and watching him reassure patients' family members as he controls visitor flow in the sometimes hectic emergency room.


Patient relations associate Sa'adon Tunot and his radiographer son Syaiful Sa'adon share a close relationship both at home (above) and at work at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital. PHOTO: COURTESY OF SA'ADON TUNOT, SYAIFUL SA'ADON

"I do worry for him as he is getting older, despite always having such a youthful appearance. I check on him regularly to ensure that he's coping well and not overexerting himself," said Mr Syaiful.

When asked if they would be doing anything special to celebrate Father's Day tomorrow, both of them said that they have shifts scheduled for the day. But that does not seem to have dampened their spirits in any way.

 
 

Mr Sa'adon, who also manages operations at the emergency room, feels that calming the anxious hearts of worried family members while doctors attend to their loved ones is part of his job.

"Many of these patients are fathers themselves, so it's heartening to be able to help them reunite with their children, even if it's just for a brief moment. I know how much this means to them," he said.

As part of Covid-19 safety precautions, patients in the emergency room are not allowed to have visits from family members unless the patient is in a critical condition.

As such, Mr Sa'adon feels that by coordinating visits for critical cases, he plays an important role in alleviating the fears and anxieties of patients and their loved ones, while bringing them some moments of solace.

This is what makes this Father's Day all the more meaningful for him.

"We can always spend quality time together and share a simple dinner with one another," said Mr Sa'adon. "As long as my family remains safe and healthy, every day is Father's Day to me.

"I don't need a dedicated date to feel special."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 20, 2020, with the headline 'Father-son duo look out for patients, each other'. Print Edition | Subscribe