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Journeying with patients through the times

In his 45 years of service, Clinical Associate Professor Low Boon Yong, Emeritus Consultant of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Changi General Hospital (CGH), has had a remarkable journey.

A veteran doctor, Clin Assoc Prof Low Boon Yong has witnessed the evolution of healthcare in Singapore. This includes milestone events such as the relocation of CGH and the old Toa Payoh Hospital in 1997 (he had led the Accident & Emergency (A&E) departments at both these hospitals). Clin Assoc Prof Low has weathered two major disease outbreaks — SARs in 2003 and the recent COVID-19 pandemic — and also mentored generations of doctors. In recognition of his excellence in patient care and lasting impact on healthcare, Clin Assoc Prof Low was conferred the lifelong Emeritus Consultant title by SingHealth this year.

Accident and emergency care before computers

Back in 1988, when Clin Assoc Prof Low was tasked to set up the A&E department at the old Toa Payoh Hospital, the patient load was extremely high. There were no computers then, and Clin Assoc Prof Low recalls the times when patients were registered manually upon arrival at the A&E — with pen and paper.

With only six medical officers running three shifts, Clin Assoc Prof Low implemented the earliest form of a triage system to attend to A&E patients efficiently. A senior nurse carried out a preliminary assessment of the patients’ respective conditions and allocated patients equally to each medical officer on a rotational basis. This move helped to decrease waiting times by over 60%.

At CGH, Clin Assoc Prof Low played an instrumental role in contributing to the transformation of A&E departments across the nation. The triage system went on to be unanimously implemented, and is still in use today at A&Es in Singapore. With further advances in technology, the Electronic Medical Records system was implemented.

Clinical Associate Professor Low Boon Yong
Emeritus Consultant, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Changi General Hospital

Passing on a legacy of clinical excellence

A firm believer in nurturing younger generations, Clin Assoc Prof Low was also a key driver of the SingHealth Orthopaedic Residency Programme more than a decade ago. Today, he continues to mentor house officers, medical officers and family medicine residents in orthopaedics at CGH. He also teaches medical students at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine and the NTU Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine. He believes that every generation of doctors must continue to mentor their juniors so they can take over well and continue to provide care for the public.

Journeying with patients through the times