Saturday, May 26, 2007

Camping at Mount Elizabeth

Singapore is quite a disheartening place to live in because I don't think I dare to fall ill in Singapore, especially not with the rationale of our healthcare system in place. Let's just say 一分钱,一分货,多一分钱,加一分service. A penny for a penny worth of goods, an additional penny gives a penny worth of service. Unless I have lots of money to pay for private healthcare, unless I am willing to give up my sanity before being pushed crazy my lousy healthcare services, I don't think I dare fall critically ill.

Staying with my late grandfather during his last days at the hospital proved to me that private healthcare services is much much better than the public sector. My maternal grandfather is a regular in/out of some Singapore Government Hospital and the last time he was in, the whole experience was dreadful. The doctors doing rounds were like my age and they took hours to arrive. Medication was slipshod and because of not very accurate prescriptions, the scope had to be postponed and postponed. One nurse served many people, the nurses attitudes were bad and they were quite slow. A lot more other gripes, but I don't want to sound like I'm complaining so I should just go into complimenting the folks over at Mount Elizabeth.

My dad would say that service standards there have dropped since my great grandmother, and my grandmother's times, but well, it's already very good already la. My grandfather was admitted into a double room, there was this other guy sharing the room with him when he was first admitted, but because my grandfather was in a critical condition, that other guy asked to change to another room because he was pantang about sharing a room with someone who was about to pass away. And he did get his change of room. And because of my grandfather's condition, the nurses didn't arrange another person to move in and hence my family was given exclusive rights to use the entire double room.

Making the room comfortable to ourselves, we brought in our own foldable chairs, the nurses allowed that. We made use of the chairs available. And we even took over the empty bed beside my grandfather. But it's also because we really had a lot of people with us, the entire extended family and the occasional guests. Since we had two TVs, we played two different channels on each TV to occupy our time. Best of it, there are lots of very interesting channels on their TV, mostly Indonesian channels and a few cable channels. Of course, since I bet there are like more Indonesian patients than local ones. hehe~

There's also an adequate number of staff on duty, with nurses coming in to check on my grandfather regularly, taking his blood pressure, checking on his oxygen and changing his drip. There's also a higher proportion of local nurses working in the private sector. It's not that I'm driscriminating the foreign nurses, but an advantage of the local nurses is their ability to understand the local tongue. Most nurses speak dialects so that they can communicate directly with the patients. Not just the nurses can actually, even the doctors, they speak various dialects and some Bahasa (for the Indonesian patients mah). That is better because if not there'd be lots of miscommunication. The private sector nurses also seem to be a lot more experienced than the rookie nurses stuck in the public sector.

Visiting hours and visitor limits are also bullshit in the private sector. Even though there's clearly a visiting hours, the nurses don't enforce that. That resulted in my family and I staying overnight at the hospital. We mostly stayed in the room or went to the lobby. And people were camping and sleeping all over the place, not a very pretty sight but nobody cares much, there's after all much more important stuff like the matter of life and death to worry about. That day we stayed over we saw many other families also staying over in the hospital, suddenly I felt that we are not alone in the horrible sufferings, it felt somewhat comforting.

My journey down to the hospital was bad. The news came quite suddenly as my grandfather's conditioned worsened suddenly. I took a cab down to the hospital and all I thought was the last time I cabbed down to Mount E, I was with my sister, that night my grandmother passed away. The ride was quite silent, I guess not many cab drivers, a Mercedes cabbie somemore, would want to talk to a person who looks gravely silent and is heading towards a hospital. My grandfather managed to pull through that night as we stayed with him the whole night. It was a Saturday night, luckily, people needn't work on Sundays, so there was not much worries of tiring out.

Sunday morning my family went home for a short rest while my dad's siblings and their family came over. That short trip back home was quite bad. Every phone call made our hearts skip a beat. I really hate those kind of phone calls, it's so nerve wrecking. Sometime in the afternoon came the call which sent us all back to the hospital. My grandfather hadn't managed to make it till the night.

The nurses over at the hospital were really very supportive.

But of course, private healthcare isn't also that all great, there were some quite bad encounters especially with the usage of a machine which my family supposedly paid for and rented it for the sole use by my grandfather, but because the whole ward only had one of those machines, everytime some other patient needed it, it was loaned out for a while. But it's only a monitoring machine so things weren't affected that much.

Then there's also the problem with the billing. There's a lot of additional charges and stuff. And each night at the hospital came up to about $1100-1200. Imagine how much bills was chalked up the last time my grandfather stayed in the hospital. He stayed there for about 3 weeks, and had an operation done too. hai... Very expensive.

Really, in Singapore one cannot fall sick unless one is rich enough to pay for all these sort of stuff. Quite disheartening...

PS: A note to all concerned, I'm coping well with this loss, don't worry too much about me. Life is back to normal. Maybe I'll talk about the wake another time. I'm fine with talking about these stuff, so don't worry too much when talking to me. yup~ I'll be fine.


Malleus said...

I agree.. Singapore does need some revamp of its healthcare.

That said, if you have bought adequate insurance, then it is possible to get private medical services at an affordable rate..

xxoos said...

affordable is relative to each and every person. ya, for my grandfather's case, about half the bill was covered by insurance, but that amount to other could still be considered as quite an astronomical sum of money.

still, it's better not to fall sick. hahaha~

Malleus said...

I'm glad your grandfather had an insurance.. else it would have been terrible..

My grandparents had no insurance and had to bear with the "semi-yucky" services of the public hospital

xxoos said...

hmm... okay la...