S'pore-1st world country 3rd world mentality

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S'pore-1st world country 3rd world mentality

Postby SingDadNZ » Sat Aug 04, 2012 9:29 pm

Two years ago, my 84 year old dad was wheelchair bound due to a damaged nerve and was unable to stand on his feet. He was a very active man and enjoyed going to his church in the city, to the local library and to some of his favorite outdoor markets. I come home to Singapore every six months as I live and work aboard for the last 20 years. I find it extremely difficult to lift my dad into a taxi and to our maid, it is impossible as he weighs 65 kg. My dad is a prisoner confined to the neighborhood park and his home for the last 2 years.

From my experiences with public transport in first world countries, 20 years ago up to now, bus drivers are very professional and always greet their wheelchair passengers with a big hello before dropping a ramp to help them up to the allocated section of the bus and secure their wheelchair while the rest of the patient passengers wait for the driver to get back to his seat. All modern buses can kneel on request with a built in ramp with drivers with the same caring attitude. All public transport is wheelchair friendly or alternative service is provided.

With that in mind, I went to the bus stop in my Yishun neighborhood to bring my dad to the library. On my third attempt to get into a bus with a wheelchair I was told by the driver that there were no wheelchair friendly buses in this neighborhood. So I decided to push him to the library which is about 3km away. On reaching the library, I noticed some of the buses were wheelchair friendly and decided to stop one going into the city. The bus was crowded and I stood on the door way of the bus and asked if he could open the rear door for me to push my dad’s wheelchair. The driver seemed annoyed that I was standing on the doorway and talking to him in English. He started complaining loudly in Chinese and drove me away leaving my dad still in the bus stop. Passengers were shouting for him to stop and he did stop about 100 meters away in the middle of the road. Several passengers came up to me and told me to excuse him as he is from China and can’t speak English. I wrote to the bus company and spoke to the local MP for a wheelchair friendly bus for the neighborhood and 2 years have passed, and my dad is still a prisoner confined to his home and neighborhood. In a multi racial country, a state owned Bus Company hiring only Chinese speaking drivers to cater mainly to the Chinese majority does show poor understanding of race relationship and sloppy hiring services bordering on arrogance.
I was once in Hanoi with my 2 year old kid in a baby stroller and it was impossible to use the side walk due to the uneven floor or over flowing merchandise from the shops into the side walk. I had to push my son on the main street. Many Singapore shopping areas, hawkers and side walks give me the impression that I am in Hanoi or in Johor Bahru. Law makers in Singapore lack empathy when dealing with handicaps and the elderly, and this has a tickle-down effect to the vast majority of Singaporeans and from this pool of people comes the next generation of leaders. My mother is 78 years old and she mentions to me that when she travels on public transport and if the reserved seat for the elderly is occupied, then very rarely would a younger person give up their seats from the non reserve seats. They pretend to be asleep or are sleeping while staring at their ipod.

Recently, I brought my dad to the polyclinic and my maid did not bring the appointment card with her and she was told off with a “top down” attitude and I had to step in to stop the verbal abuse. Very few doctors take the time to explain to you the possible health problems and the short and long term outcomes especially if English or Mandarin is not your first language. And I suspect this is due to lack of competent Malay and Tamil translators available in polyclinics and hospitals. My dad was on a clinical trial at Tan Tock Seng Hospital and he was unaware about it (within six weeks he was unable to walk) and I always suspected it was due to the clinical trial. I only became suspicious when they keep saying that there are no specialists for my dad at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital when I ask for his medical records to be transferred to the new hospital. Only then they told me he is on clinical trial and even my mom who accompanies dad on his weekly hospital visits did not understand what was going on. They showed me a document my 84 year old dad signed for the clinical trial. Taxi fares alone came to nearly $800 for the weekly visit to TTSH as they were no wheelchair friendly buses. All first world countries have a robust medical “ethics” policy in place but it is not the case for many of the countries in SEA including Singapore. I realize taking the hospital like TTSH to court will be a losing battle hence I dropped the idea.

My parents’ medi-save account is like an open check book for the hospital and they are emptying the account quickly. My brother-in-law is a medical doctor and director in an Australian Hospital and his advice to us is to bring dad to the local downstairs GP rather then to the hospital. Most time with fever, he just needs some antibiotics due to catheter implant infections. His explanation to me from the many telephone conversations he had with the doctors each time my dad is hospitalized is as follow:

“Doctors in Khoo Teck Wat hospital seems to be in a revolving door as it is impossible to get hold of the same doctor who made the last decision at the hospital on your dad. The next doctor you speak to wants to run a series of expensive tests again. They don’t seem to read the patients’ history on what has been done. The theory of deduction is rarely used instead relying solely on the latest medical report card. One doctor I spoke to wanted to use an endoscopy to see if he had bleeding ulcers and I asked him if he had done a simple stool sample for blood trace and he said, ‘No’. I suggested he should try that first as endoscopy could turn very uncomfortable for an 86 year old man.”

My brother-in-law then suggested that I should “pay cash for the hospital bills instead through the medi-save account to have a better control over the bills. Unlike Singapore, hospitalization in Australia is free as such doctors need to work within a frame work of a budget to prevent a blowout and in your dad’s case he was admitted due to fever and dark stools. An endoscopy, sigmoid scope, colonoscopy or proctoscopy is never considered until cost effective diagnose like stool sample, rectum-finger examination for bleeding, discontinue iron medication as they can produce dark stools and analyze patients past medical history, diet and medication history. The theory of deduction is applied to keep the medical cost down and apply best practice. In a user pay society like Singapore, doctors have no qualms in ordering an endoscopy and proctoscopy test as it is the quickest way to get results. Maybe the doctors in Singapore are overworked but it is an over kill, waste of human resources and lacking financial accountability. It is flawed system disguised in a fancy building looking like a 5 star hotel but no best practice used.”
I agree with my brother-in-law that medical staff do not read patients’ medical report/history. In the last six months my dad had been hospitalized 4 times, usually for fever due to urine tract infection. We have given clear instruction that we do not need a dietitian or physiotherapist service during his hospitalization and yet we are billed for more than $200 worth of physiotherapist service. It was the specialist from that hospital that told us that my dad will never walk again and ever known tests had been done to confirm that. My mother says this mostly foreign physiotherapist keep soliciting their service to my dad even after my mother insists she has a standing instruction on this matter. Yet they sneak in their service when my mother or the maid is not visiting my dad. The same problems we have with the dietitian service. My dad has a full set of teeth and eating was never a problem nor does he have a complaint. They just come around and ask him a few questions and leave a tin of food thickener. My dad does not eat soft food and never needs a food thickener. We had been billed for the service. The latest stay in hospital was for 21 days and he was discharged last week. His total bill was $10,398.89 and after the government subsidy the bill payable was $3,317.20. My dad first went to the hospital because he had fever and dark stool. After 21 days he was discharged and the diagnosis was fever due to urine track infection and no internal bleeding and stool is clear.

I refuse to pay the first hospital bill 4 months ago and since then 3 more bills until someone told me which doctor felt that my dad need a dietitian or physiotherapist service even when the family refused the service. I wrote to the finance department and also spoke to a few people in the department and yet they cannot get their act together. They send a debt collection notice to my dad.

This was the man who all his life worked hard to bring Singapore to where it is today. A first world country infrastructure with a third world mentality-

Singapore lost the plot and its soul along the way :shrug:

Please have you say and all comments are welcome.

SingDadNZ
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Re: S'pore-1st world country 3rd world mentality

Postby Minstral » Tue Aug 07, 2012 4:56 pm

Gosh I'm sorry to hear that. You have my greatest sympathies.

Speaking of public healthcare, my mother was found to have a shadow at her gall bladder area when she had to go to the hospital for acute pain in her stomach. The doctors gave her conflicting conclusions (someone said it was a problem with the pancreas, another one said it was gallstones). Over a period of 3 months, they sent her all over different departments to do all sorts of scans. She got so fed-up with all the waiting for and during appointments that she has stopped going to the hospital since she didn't feel unwell. Thankfully, it doesn't seem serious.

When it comes to catering to our ageing population, there's no way we can genuinely be considered first-world. We certainly have much to catch up on in many crucial areas like transport and healthcare.

Minstral
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Re: S'pore-1st world country 3rd world mentality

Postby SingDadNZ » Thu Aug 09, 2012 8:37 pm

Only around 40% of registered doctors for year 2010 are Singaporeans.


Probably, most Singaporean doctors are trained overseas funded by parents. PAP wants to give FT doctors high pay by controlling local medical school intake.We must increase citizen medical students’ intake in our local university. Those exceptional FT doctors are welcome here to transfer their expert medical know how. FT doctors should also not be more than 10% of annual doctor registration in Singapore.
http://veritas-lux.blogspot. com/2011/10/singapore-news- update-31th-oct-2011.html (permission was sought and given to post this article).



My dealing with the hospital with regards to communication had always been difficult. You have a whole bunch of foreign doctors who just want to put to practice what they learn in medical school to gain experience and impress the local senior doctors, consultants and specialist doctors. Money is never in the equation as results from test are better then their medical opinions and a safe option. There seems a gap in doctors with mid- management positions who are Singaporeans and can understand the make up of the different culture and how it all blends together. After a week in hospital, they should have discharged my dad. My mom requested for his discharged yet not one of them sat with my mom and explains to her the reason on why they are still keeping him in hospital (21 days) neither did they offer some other options. NO HUMAN TOUCH

SingDadNZ
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