I made my first and a surprise trip home recently after I moved to a new city and started a new job. Apart from my siblings who were informed very last minute for the obvious reason that I needed a ride from the airport, I did manage to surprise my parents and friends pleasantly. However, there was also a surprise element for me as we ended up admitting mum to the hospital on the third day I was home to treat an infection she contacted and I had to extend my stay.
Mum was discharged 10 days later after the source of her infection was determined and treated effectively. Through the eventful week, I gained fresh and positive perspectives on our Malaysian public healthcare.
We used to think very lowly of our public healthcare as when the thought of general hospitals came to mind, we could only visualise the overcrowded wards, massive queues, long waiting lists, questionable hygiene, poor administration and arrogant and rude doctors and nurses. Little did we realise as time moved on, many good changes had taken place along with it over the last 20 years or so.
This time when mum was suspected of a certain high risk infection, we decided to admit her to the general hospital for immediate treatment instead of going to the private ones after considering the cost factor. Though later many of our good friends as well as doctor friends comforted us that there are indeed a team of expert doctors in the general hospitals whom we could rely on.
Except for mum’s lengthy wait at the emergency for an empty bed in the ward which was expected, and her ill verbal treatment from a not-so-diplomatic doctor in the emergency ward that was totally unnecessary, her whole experience at Hospital Queen Elizabeth II was commendable.
Once mum was moved to the ward that she shared with another elderly patient at 4am the next morning and settled in comfortably, she was very well taken care of by a team of doctors and nurses. The attending physician Dr. Andrea Lu and the team of young doctors and housemen she was leading were attentive, informative, friendly and approachable and they all made mum as well as us the family members comfortable. We were assured that she was in good hand.
While she was on antibiotics that she responded well to, mum was given extensive checks to determine the cause of her infection. In the end, the results revealed that it was a milder infection than it was first suspected. We were all relieved and after 10 days of treatment and careful monitoring, she was given the green light to be discharged.
Nothing stresses the patients and their family members out more than the poor attitude of the medical team. Fortunately and beyond our expectation, the doctors and nurses who took care of mum displayed humility and dedication to their job. The doctors left no stone unturned in finding out the cause of mum’s infection; they were thorough, detailed and reassuring.
When we got the bill for mum’s hospitalisation and treatments, we were gobsmacked as we were required to pay a meagre amount. Instead of the estimated cost of RM35,000+ (est. USD8,800+/₤6,550+) had she been admitted to a private hospital, her medical fee at the general hospital came to an insignificant sum of RM47 only (est. USD12/₤9) after taken into account of a massive 95% of government subsidies and senior citizen privilege of 50% discount. We joked that the income taxes we paid over the decades eventually paid off and for once, we got to enjoy the welfare for the rakyat (citizen/people in Malay)!
We are grateful for the care extended to our mum by the doctors and nurses at Ward 3 of Hospital Queen Elizabeth II and the other specialists and lab technicians that we did not get to meet who worked hard to ensure the delivery of a proper diagnosis on mum’s case. Even the cleaners who carried out their duties diligently and cleaned the room in frequent intervals deserved a praise.
Kudos to our Malaysian healthcare system for the high standard of service and its top-notch patient affordability.