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Stella’s Holistic Approach To Healthcare
The hospice's patient care includes support for family members, too, says CEO Dr Stella Wee
"EVERY Moment Matters" is the motto of Dover Park Hospice, says CEO Dr Stella Wee, on managing a healthcare facility where most patients have no more than a few months to live.
“I love my job because I know I’m doing a lot of good for the patients, from the point of admission and making sure they’re well-cared for and comfortable, until they're discharged or they pass on,” Dr Wee says.
“We raise the quality of life for patients coming to the end of life’s journey where every moment matters.”
Dr Wee has poured her passion and focus into the health care industry in Singapore for almost 25 years. At Dover Park Hospice, she heads a team of 100 staff and 325 active volunteers, who care for up to 50 inpatients and, at any one time, up to 80 homecare patients.
Before taking up her role at the hospice in 2012, Dr Wee, now in her early 50s, provided managerial support to senior medical professionals, healthcare staff and top executives at Singapore General Hospital, Kandang Kerbau Women’s and Children’s Hospital, West Point Hospital and a private healthcare organisation.
In the past two decades she has also organised voluntary medical missions to China, Indonesia, Middle East, Myanmar and Uzbekistan, as well as assisted with the organisation of local and medical conferences and postgraduate membership examinations for local and foreign doctors in Singapore and the region.
Switching to healthcare, a worthwhile cause
Dr Wee began her business career in banking but soon felt drawn to something different.
“I went into the healthcare industry because it was about caring for people, providing a service and contributing my ideas, my thoughts, my experiences and suggestions on how to improve life for those who are ill, especially those who are not in a position to care for themselves – people who genuinely need help,” she says. “I felt that healthcare was a worthwhile cause.
“At the hospice, we adopt a holistic total patient care approach that includes support for family members too. One example is the Rose for Remembrance Ceremony held twice a year for family members of patients who have died in the past six months.”
MBA in International Management
A devoted life-long learner who draws ideas from a wide range of sources including books, journals, workshops, seminars and even movies, Dr Wee enrolled in the SIM-RMIT MBA (International Management) programme from 1998-2000. “I was interested in the international aspect of business and management,” she says of her MBA study. “It opened a new vista of experiences and important information on how companies operate internationally.”
The programme covered International Finance, International Trade, International Law and International Human Resource, and Global Leadership, among other Management subjects. There were many case studies, which stimulated her interest, she says. With the knowledge gained from the MBA, she worked for six months in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in a government healthcare project.
“It was a great learning experience going beyond the boundaries of Singapore. I wanted to gain greater exposure and more hands-on experience working with international companies. I learnt about other cultures, human dynamics and its impact on morale, productivity and cost.
Dr Wee’s face lights up when she talks about the camaraderie and team work involved in her studies at RMIT University, with the friendships she made continuing to play an important part in her life today.
“All these years, I continued to maintain those contacts. They’ve been able to help me in many ways, from referring me suitable candidates for vacant positions in my organisation, to attending events that I organised."
In her MBA course, she made lifelong friends with these people. "All I do is just pick up the phone, and they would immediately recognise my voice, even before I say my name! It's that kind of close connection and bond, they’re like family.”
Dr Wee is enthusiastic about passing on what she has learnt both to her family – as an aunt of one niece and seven nephews – as well as her colleagues and friends. She is happy to share her knowledge, skills and expertise.
“To me, sharing is a joy. You can see that glow of happiness in people when they appreciate your sincerity and earnestness in sharing something that will help them, when they have that ‘aha’ moment.”
Treasured memories of Melbourne
Her most treasured memories though, were on the one-and-a-half weeks she spent with fellow MBA students in Melbourne in 1998 and the second residential programme in Malacca in 1999, attending lectures and classes.
“That was a really good experience because we got to immerse ourselves in the local culture as well as the historical and unique cultural experiences. We tasted the food, we met people there, we went to all local areas of interest. And I had all my friends together, a whole bunch of us from various industries, companies and countries. It was a healthy way to learn because it encouraged us and pushed us. I thoroughly enjoyed it.”
Dover Park Hospice, at the outskirts of Tan Tock Seng Hospital, will move to a bigger site in five years time.
Story based on interview, with earlier material from RMIT University News; posted online in November 2013