Peace in the Neighbourhood
Shalom means ‘peace’ in Jewish, and walking into Dr Vincent’s clinic for the first time, I could see how befitting the name was.
A cheerful and friendly man is how I would describe him as he ushered me into his room. Previously serving patients out of a hospital, Dr Vincent chanced upon the opportunity to take over the clinic back in 1995. Ever since taking helm of Shalom Medical Group, he has continued to run the clinic to this today.
Out of curiosity, I asked ‘Why the name Shalom?’. Dr Vincent shared that when he took over the helms back in 1995, the clinic already carried the name Shalom, and he didn’t want to change the brand. Hailing from a Catholic background, he also chuckled, ‘My mum was very happy with the name’.
During his 22 years in Bras Basah, Dr Vincent has experienced the ‘kampung spirit’ in this community first-hand. Some of the residents have been seeing Dr Vincent since young, and over the years, he has personally witnessed them growing up. Some have even gotten married, started their own family and now, bring their children to him when they fall ill. Dr Vincent also shared about the times when residents would even stop him on the streets to ask about their ailments!
Recalling how badly affected Singapore was during the SARS epidemic, I could not help but wonder how he dealt with the situation back then. Despite the high-risk environment, Dr Vincent was among the many doctors that bravely kept the doors to their clinics open.
Dr Vincent spoke of the challenging working circumstances he had to endure during that period, from not being able to switch on the air-conditioning, to having to wear full protective suits. Among his many patients, there were a few suspected cases of SARS, which had to be referred to Tan Tock Seng. The lethality of SARS only served to create an eerie sense of unpredictability as he came to work each day.
As I ended my interview with him, I wondered if Dr Vincent would ever retire. From the looks of it, it won’t be anytime soon as the passion to serve burns strong within him.