No matter how routine it is, the idea of surgery – especially surgery for children – can be a concerning prospect. A father himself, Dr Zeng Hao Joel Wong of Paediatric Surgery and Urology International, strives to make the experience more familiar and effective to ensure not just peace of mind, but optimum outcomes as well.
Safety is paramount in all surgery and when it comes to paediatric surgery, Dr Wong takes an even more rigorous approach. As a specialist trained in paediatric general surgery and urology, Dr Wong started Paediatric Surgery and Urology International with the goal of delivering safe and effective surgery for children.
To this end, he has invested time and effort to design an integrated clinic that includes an in-house, fully accredited ambulatory surgery service.
“We are an all-in-one centre. We do all the things a clinic does – and the surgery too,” he said. “It makes a big difference in the care for a child. Our patients are more familiar with the staff and the space. This provides parents and patients more reassurance throughout their care.”
Dr Wong takes a meticulous approach in running the ambulatory surgical service. Having it together with his clinic ensures that he can maintain strict oversight and management of its processes. With the centre seeing predominantly paediatric patients, the staff is experienced with handling children. The centre is also a Medisave, Child Development Account and Baby Bonus Approved Institution, and strives to make the financial payment process a seamless one.
"We are an all-in-one centre. We do all the things a clinic does – and the surgery too."Dr Wong
It was not easy when he first started out in private practice several years ago. There were people, including senior colleagues, who took advantage of the situation. Fortunately, there were also colleagues and family members who supported him and together, made the dream work. He shared that the whole process of facility planning, administrative paperwork and more, took around a year of research, planning and implementation.
“But it was well worth it,” he said. Not only is the operating theatre Ministry of Health certified, it has also attained International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and National Environmental Balancing Bureau (NEBB) certifications, to achieve a clean room anti-sepsis standard. “I thank God for His guidance. Much appreciation also goes to my wife for her continual support. The Camden Medical management was instrumental in the success of the project.”
As a paediatric surgeon, he emphasises that children are not just ‘small adults’. Because of their unique physiology, their needs and conditions are best seen by a surgeon with in-depth knowledge and experience in paediatric anatomy. “In our young patients, there is little room for error so we want to be as safe as possible before, during and after surgery,” he said.
Assisted by a team of registered nurses, Dr Wong conducts a range of surgeries at his centre, with both open as well as minimal access techniques. Some of the more common surgeries in neonates, infants and children include circumcisions, tongue-tie release, hernia and hydrocele repair, surgery for undescended testis and other urological conditions. He also operates on patients in the older age group, who are teenagers and young adults. Many of his patients come via word-of-mouth referrals.
Regardless of age, Dr Wong believes in making the most out of every patient contact, building rapport and taking time to explain diagnoses and procedures. This, he shared, helps to clarify doubts and offer reassurance.
For instance, when examining his young patients, he encourages parents to be present. “It is helpful to show them on the spot what I find and what I plan to do,” he explained. This helps alleviate the anxiety that parents feel over their child’s condition.
Another area that Dr Wong addresses is post-surgical aftercare. On the day of surgery, after the operation, most, if not all, of his patients are able to return home where they can recover in the comfort of their own beds.
For this to happen, Dr Wong adopts techniques and equipment so that the patient can be discharged on the same day. For example, surgery for hypospadias, a condition where the urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the body) is not located at the tip of the penis. Historically, this involves a two-weeks or more hospital stay for monitoring. However, Dr. Wong’s patients can go home after surgery on the same day, with specific intra-operative measures, post-operative wound care advice and analgesia.
All of his patients can also reach him via instant messaging. “It is important to be contactable after an operation, especially in the first few days after surgery,” he said. As a doctor, he believes his duty is not just in treating conditions at a given point in time, but also in ensuring continuity of care and looking after the patient’s whole being. This underscores his centre’s motto of care: “Your child first.”
The information provided in this article is meant purely for general information purposes only and may not be used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, please seek the advice of your doctor or qualified healthcare provider. The views, information or opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the writer and the interviewees and do not necessarily reflect those of, and are not endorsed by, Camden Medical Centre.