Newly-married physicians assist with pandemic response

Horizon Weekly | 29 April 2020

By Debbie Shelton

Two newly-married physicians assist with COVID-19 response in Toronto.

Sing-Chi Lam, a family physician in Edmonton, attends CNBC’s Evangel Baptist Church and his wife Molly is a physician training in infectious diseases in Toronto.

Initially, the couple had planned to do medical missions in Kenya immediately after their wedding but instead they will be supporting the fight against COVID-19.

Sing-Chi and Molly were married on
April 11
and left for Toronto the next day.

“After the government announcements enforcing limitations on mass gatherings in Alberta, we decided to postpone the wedding celebration until after the pandemic,” Sing-Chi said, including his wife Molly in his statement. “We recognized that our lives still needed to go on in spite of the uncertainty, so we decided to keep our original wedding date, April 11, 2020.

“We went ahead with an intimate ceremony in front of God and our families,” Sing-Chi continued. “We are still planning to celebrate with our friends and family when the pandemic subsides.”

Nate Vedoya, pastor/planter of Church in the Valley in Edmonton, officiated at the marriage service, pared down from its original 400-person guest list to six people, including the pastor and his wife, Deen-Deen.

The couple left the following Sunday for Ontario.

“This reminds me of weddings during war times,” Deen-Deen Vedoya told the Horizon.  “Such an inspiring story of hope and perseverance in the midst of a crisis.”

In the weeks before the wedding, with the COVID-19 outbreak, work responsibilities changed for both Sing-Chi and Molly.

Clinics became quieter and much less busy. Sing-Chi’s daily routines as a family physician in Edmonton changed. He wasn’t seeing many patients in clinic anymore and had many virtual patient visits—by phone or video conferencing.

As he works in this new reality Sing-Chi says, “I’ve learned to be more open with patients especially with what I don’t know. When patients come to see the doctor, they expect us to figure out what the problem is and to find a solution for it. With the COVID-19 pandemic and the ever-changing information and new research, I have been honest in telling patients what is known and what is unknown.”

He adds, “There is a wealth of information out there and not all of it may be legitimate, so part of my work is to allay fears and to stop the spread of disinformation (fake news).”

Molly says of the increased time she spent with the Infection Prevention and Control team in Toronto, “It is very different in the face of a pandemic, with emerging outbreaks in hospitals and long-term care facilities.

“I’ve learned to respect COVID-19 as an emerging pathogen. It has the potential to cause widespread transmission via unrecognized or asymptomatic patients and it has been especially difficult to fight a pandemic that we can’t see in our communities.”

Molly emphasizes, “Given our limited resources, we’ve had to make the most of what we have and hope and pray that people will heed the message from public health authorities to stay home and socially distance so as not to overwhelm our healthcare system with sick patients.

“Because it is a new virus with limited scientific evidence, there have been ethical dilemmas in who and when to treat patients. We want to balance experimental therapies with little evidence and possible serious side effects with trying to save the patients that are rapidly declining before us.”

At Toronto airport
on day one of marriage

Since their wedding and move to their new home, the newlyweds are glad to be together to support each other as they each serve in their areas of expertise in Toronto.

Molly, a licensed internal medicine specialist, continues to work at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital with the IPAC team (Infection Prevention and Control) involved in managing outbreaks and minimizing transmission of infections in hospital settings, including COVID-19. She will complete her fellowship training in infectious diseases in June of 2020.

In Toronto, Sing-Chi will continue to see patients through virtual care. But he is making himself available to help out in hospitals as needed.

Those on the front lines, treating patients with the COVID-19 virus, see firsthand the devastation that can be spread if it is not contained.

Sing-Chi and Molly reiterate, ““The medical profession will be encouraged by members of the public listening to the public health recommendations to stay home and socially distance in efforts to prevent further spread of COVID-19, which would overwhelm our hospital resources.

Continue to wash your hands regularly and share information from credible sources (WHO, government of Canada websites, provincial health agencies, public health) and try not to propagate myths, conspiracy theories and misinformation.”

The unknown brings anxieties and questions to the general public as well as medical professionals. Isolation for longer than normal periods affects each person differently based on their life situation.

The Horizon asked the Lams, “Have you considered how or if this pandemic will change the way people relate to one another after being isolated for a long period?”

Sing-Chi says, “Technology has come a long way and it’s easier to keep in touch with people than ever before, even with social distancing. Social isolation is still difficult for the elderly or impaired persons who are unable to use technology in this way and we continually pray for these people in our communities.

Sing-Chi and Molly first met while
hiking the West Coast Trail.

“When Molly and I were dating, our relationship was mostly long-distance because we were working and studying in different parts of the country. Video conferencing allowed us to keep in touch, to do devotions, and to be a part of each other’s lives. I don’t think video conferencing will ever replace face-to-face meetings, but it can help us feel less isolated. After the pandemic, I think people will make more of an effort to spend quality time together.”

How can Christians help their communities during this tough time? Sing-Chi advises that people stay connected (texts, calls, video conference hangouts, online small groups and church services). Check up on each other and support those in need. Pray for each other. Offer assistance to neighbours and support local businesses.

Molly and Sing-Chi share these words of encouragement:

“We have been meditating on Proverbs 3:5–6, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight, and Psalm 27, The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

"We need to support each other through this tough situation and lend a hand to those in need."

“More than ever, we need to trust that God is in control, His hand is in this situation and He is our faithful and loving father who will walk with us through the darkest days. We need to support each other through this tough situation and lend a hand to those in need. We also need to trust the public health officials that are doing their best to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“We are still planning to serve in medical missions once the situation improves,” Molly told the Horizon. “We will see where there is a need and where God calls us to go, and Kenya is certainly a possibility.”

Read more about Sig-Chi and Molly in this article from Samaratin's Purse.


* Note that all comments will be reviewed before appearing on this page.