While the political elites live the high life obtaining the best medical and health care treatment, Steven Grumach shares with us his experience at a government general hospital. Bear in mind that the Malaysian government spends only about 2 per cent of GDP on public health care. A big chunk of the money goes to privatised hospital support services and privatised drug procurement.
On 31 December 2013, I had problems breathing and was admitted to the Seberang Jaya General Hospital. I was put in the critical zone (Red Zone) for treatment. It was at around 5.30pm that I was put there.
During this time I was told that certain tests needed to be done and later I was told that I had bacterial infection in my lungs. I was given an antibiotic and at the same time was put on oxygen, which I needed very badly. The tests went on with the taking of blood from my arm and artery to check my oxygen level. This was going on for a while.
After that, all was quiet. By this time it was already 10.30pm and it had been five hours in the red zone and I was getting hungry because I hadn’t taken my dinner. I asked the doctor in charge what time I would be sent to the ward.
I was told I would be sent at 11.00pm.
A nurse came and pushed my bed out from the red zone to the yellow zone. Here, I was wondering how long I would be kept here. It was already midnight and New Year 2014 had arrived. This time I had to ask the nurse how long they were going to keep me at this zone.
To my disappointment the nurse said she had misplaced my card and was searching for it.
I asked the doctor why it was taking so long to send patients to the ward.
The reply I got was, shortage of staff.
I couldn’t stand it anymore. I asked the doctor there when I would be sent to the ward. Finally they found my card and took me to Ward 5 at 12.45am.
Since I was on oxygen, I was confined to the bed and had problem urinating and passing motion. I asked the nurse for a urinal and a bed pan.
Sad to say, they told me that it was out of stock and just gave me a plastic container to urinate in. Luckily my wife was with me to help me out.
Now my question is, how come a big hospital like this doesn’t have enough apparatus for the patients’ needs?
I was put in Cubicle 1 for observation and on 4 January was pushed to Cubicle 2. My God, what a mess this cubicle was in. A cubicle meant for six beds was crammed with 11 beds, and patients and visitors had hardly room to move around.
When I enquired from the doctor why they had to put so many patients in one room, the answer I got was too many patients but not enough space to put the patients.
This caused much inconvenience for patients who had problem moving so that they could have privacy to change. Is this how the ministry says they are concerned about the rakyat, especially senior patients?
Finally, the day came for me to be discharged and I was told by the doctor that I needed to do a CT Scan on 9 January and a review on 16 January.
Since I had to be on oxygen-support for 24 hours, I asked the doctor if there would be oxygen supply for me to use at the respiratory clinic.
He said there would be none and I had to find my own oxygen supply.
This was really disappointing to hear. So I told the doctor I needed to contact higher authorities to inform them about this matter. The Seberang Jaya Hospital infrastructure is so bad that it needs immediate attention from the ministry to look into this.
I don’t blame the staff and the doctors; they are doing a good job caring for the patients, but sad to say the Health Ministry seems to close an eye to the inadequate infrastructure, staff and facilities.
On 29 January 2014, I had an appointment at the chest clinic at 8.30am, and I was told that there was no oxygen tank for me to use. I had to use my own tank, which could last only three hours.
Later I found out that the chest clinic is not equipped with oxygen tanks and a nebuliser machine. Well, my question is, what happens if a patient suddenly is in need of oxygen or gets an asthma attack?
Here I feel the Ministry needs to look into this problem for the benefit of the patients. As we know, most patients with breathing problems are senior citizens as I am also one of them in my early 60s now.
I hope in future when the government builds new hospitals, it will look into this matter and have proper equipment for the sake of the patients. It also needs to bring in more staff to cater for the increasing number of patients.