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Operation Santa Claus

Hospital staff trade surgical gowns for aprons and yoga mats in the name of charity

Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital organises Christmas party and yoga marathon to raise funds for Operation Santa Claus

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 December, 2017, 12:26pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 December, 2017, 9:38am

The cold weather took a back seat to the warm atmosphere and high spirits as hundreds of staff took part in the Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital’s Christmas party.

The celebration, held a week before Christmas, marked the end of a month-long fundraising project at the hospital for Operation Santa Claus, the annual charity appeal organised by the South China Morning Post and RTHK.

As part of the drive, staff bought HK$100 tickets to the party at the hospital’s fourth-floor podium area, featuring game booths, a charity sale, a buffet lunch and various competitions.

Deputy medical superintendent Dr Joseph Chan Woon-tong said more than 1,000 staff had bought tickets to support the event.

He noted that the Christmas party had become an annual tradition for the hospital.

“It is part of the hospital, and it’s in our blood,” Dr Chan said. “It’s not just donating money, it’s about having fun. Everybody is looking forward to it, and we have been supporting OSC for nine years. It’s become part of our calendar to bring everyone together.”

One of the most popular features was the Super Chef With Love competition, during which doctors swapped their surgical outfits for aprons and chef hats to make tong yuen, or sweet rice dumplings in soup.

The hospital’s medical superintendent, Dr Walton Li Wai-tat, tried his hand at making several tong yuen with different colours and fillings.

“It’s my first time making rice dumplings, and it’s not easy because for cooking you need to develop the skill; to do surgery you just have to do it one way and do it well,” Dr Li said. “Here you can have some creativity and express yourself, that’s why I made a simple dumpling and made sure it was filled with what I wanted, and tried to make the dumpling in a heart shape and fill it with lots of sweetness, but it didn’t turn out well.”

A laughing Li said he was happy to see so many of the staff having fun.

“It’s the spirit of participation and getting involved to make sure everybody can have a good time and all our staff are very happy with this occasion,” he added.

The winner of the competition was Dr Marion Tsao Goh Mei-ling, who said that she had not cooked for many years, so she spent time in the hospital kitchen observing what the chef did before preparing her own fillings for the dumplings.

“You can change different ingredients and have different fillings – lotus seed and red bean, and I also like taro, so I prepared that ahead of time,” she said. Dr Tsao also brought her own chocolates to decorate her finished product.

Despite winning the competition and receiving the award for raising the most funds at the event, Dr Tsao said she would rather focus on her profession than cooking.

“It was lots of fun and also very challenging,” she said. “Cooking is more difficult than doing anything else, so I prefer my job.”

In addition to the party, the hospital organised a month-long yoga marathon, starting in November. Funds were raised for every minute of exercise done.

Deputy medical superintendent Chan said he was happy and thankful that the event had raised a substantial amount for charity.

“Of course you can understand that [the staff] do not do yoga on a day-to-day basis, but they tried very hard,” Dr Chan said. “Actually, it is good to give them an idea that they should try and pick it up somehow, because it’s good that they look after their own health as well, besides joining the activities.”

Senior medical technologist Chan Kim-kun, from the pathology department, said after taking part in the marathon: “For sure I will do it again next year to raise funds for charity.”

His colleague, Dr Chris Chan Tsun-leung, said the yoga pose he attempted was more difficult than he had thought.

“It’s my first time doing yoga, and I think the most challenging thing is I never know what I’m going to do next. I just followed the instructor, who told me to kick one leg up, then I just followed,” he said.

Despite the difficulty, Chan said he was willing to take the challenge again for a good cause.