Rumah Sakit Yang Sakit

An Open Letter to Health Minister

Dear Yang Berkhidmat Liow Tiong Lai,

Mr. Wong, an elderly man presented at Hospital Likas because of severe breathlessness and was found to have severe pneumonia on chest x-ray.

He was then admitted to the High Dependency Unit of Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) 30 minutes away for treatment.

He improved after six days and was then transferred to the normal ward for further recuperation.

A bed was urgently needed one day later and the frail Mr. Wong was then shipped off to Hospital Bukit Padang for ‘rehabilitation’.

Alas, he did not improve but instead deteriorated.

As Hospital Bukit Padang was devoid of the necessary equipment and setup for managing emergencies and ill patients, Mr. Wong was then resent back to QEH for further management.

More tests were required and old Wong was then sent to Sabah Medical Center for a CT scan.

I’m not sure what happened to Mr. Wong thereafter.

Dear Minister,

I hope this short story did not catch you in an awkward moment as the infamous video did to your amorous predecessor.

I hate to interrupt you in the midst of your personal battle for self preservation in the increasingly irrelevant political party called MCA but the healthcare crisis in Sabah has just taken a turn for the worse.

The locals in Sabah refer to hospitals as ‘rumah sakit’ – translated literally to mean a ‘sick house’.

Increasingly, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, the only tertiary referral center in Sabah is living up her grand title of being a sick house.

Partially shut down since September 2008, the ailing sick house of Sabah has turned critical recently, with worsening cracks and falling tiles and a real threat of frank collapse.

The older blocks nearby were declared unsafe and subsequently evacuated and shut down.

Ill and frail patients were shipped off in a frenzy like unwanted cargo to nearby centers like Hospital Bukit Padang the mental institution, Hospital Likas, and the makeshift hospital of Lingzhi Museum in Kepayan and of course, UMNO’s favourite Sabah Medical Center (SMC).

Mr. Minister of Health,

The formation of the Queen- SMC-Likas-Lingzhi-BukitPadang medical maze has brought total chaos to healthcare services in Sabah.

The docile and unassuming Sabahan patients are constantly playing a wicked game of musical chairs, being transported around from one hospital to another according to their changing healthcare needs.

There is not one single center that can address a patient as a whole.

A lady in labor will be told that she can’t do so in QEH, while a fitting patient are whisked away from Likas to QEH.

A child with a broken limb may go to SMC but the surgery can only be done in Likas.

Elderly Mr. Wong is merely one of many such victims.

Continuity of care is virtually impossible when patients are moved about every few days.

Valuable investigations and data are lost in the process of multiple transfers resulting in costly, repeated tests.

Patients have even died due to the lack of emergency equipment and the deficient setup at the peripheral wards.

You will not hear all these because your little pharaohs in the state health department have done a great job concealing negligence, mismanagement and sheer stupidity.

Medical personnel are suffering in silence too.

Doctors from house officers to specialists are rushing around the five medical centers daily, wasting precious time, fuel and energy in the process of doing so.

Medical officers have been doing eight to fifteen on-calls every month as a result of the increased locations housing the sick.

That is fifteen days away from home and family every month, mind you.

Just in case you forgot we too have young, growing kids to care for.

Absent parents do not make for good family dynamics, won’t you agree?

We are risking our lives each working day wondering if the abandoned tower block will one day collapse upon us and send us to our Maker.

Our comrades serving in Sabah Medical Center are not having it any better.

In spite of the Barisan Nasional’s grandiose publicity buzz over the RM 245 million purchase of Sabah Medical Center, the medical personnel and patients have remained mere squatters in the premises.

The medical staffs are receiving summonses so very too often as a result of limited parking space.

Those of us in surgical disciplines are working till 9 pm on Mondays to Fridays so as to optimize the operating time of our three miserable rented surgical theatres.

In the SMC wards, 4-5 patients are cramped into rooms meant for two as the hospital was built to house a capacity of 150 beds only.

Mr. Minister,

My colleagues and I cordially invite you to come and see the ground situation for yourself without a grand entourage of administrative boot-lickers.

Patients who require hospital admission have to be turned away due to the insufficiency of places.

The inpatients meanwhile are packed like sardines in the current wards, with hardly a metre of space between beds.

The situation is comparable to a Vietnamese refugee camp.

Hospital-acquired infections are the norm rather the exception.

When a patient with tuberculosis coughs his lungs out, everyone in the ward will be inhaling the highly infectious Mycobacterium.

After 50 years of independence, our ill patients who require close observation are still sharing monitors and other equipment between themselves.

Is this the standard of care that Barisan Nasional is according to Najib’s self-proclaimed fixed deposit?

Whatever happened to all the oil money that Sabah has generated for Tanah Melayu over the last 50 years?

So you see, Mr Health Minister, we don’t need more jobless house officers, more empty promises and more tasty slogans like 1Malaysia.

We need 1Hospital and 1HealthMinister who is attuned to the sufferings of the rakyat under his care.

Do and be all that even though Sabah will most likely hand Barisan Nasional another landslide victory come next general election.

With warmest regards,
Product of the System.

  1. #1 by isahbiazhar on Tuesday, 23 March 2010 - 5:57 am

    Every hospital in this country is in a mess.It is lucky if you come out safe and sound.Resources had been shifted to areas of political influence and the whims of the directors.We need to privatise each major hospital to be run by competent directors to ensure public funds are not misdirected.Drugs are dished out without proper guidance thus rendering the loss in millions.It is time for the ministry to wake up and especially the minister to be aware that a life lost in negligence means a life lost for the nation.

  2. #2 by monsterball on Tuesday, 23 March 2010 - 6:44 am

    When there are massive corruptions…all things look good at the beginning will not last.
    Roofs are falling…computers cannot last more than few years…tables and chairs too….parking meters become faulty..all due to rejected goods or sub-standards works…for irresponsible profiteers…which all know are the name of profiting in business.
    Imagine hospitals…schools are threatening lives..make you feel sick to know…for money…all crooks will do anything.
    UMNO BARU dirty corrupted influences have poisoned Sabah…in big ways.
    Now we depend on Sabahans to wake up to the truths…to think of country and people…and vote all pro UMNO BARU political crooks out.

  3. #3 by chengho on Tuesday, 23 March 2010 - 7:44 am

    never know you ‘ve been to Vietnamese refuge camp old boy , u should ask Dap to set up hospital in KK .

  4. #4 by k1980 on Tuesday, 23 March 2010 - 7:54 am

    Sabahans joined malaysia in 1963 in haste and are now repenting at leisure. Just rename the Queen Elizabeth Hospital as Hospital Liow Tiong Lai in his honour.

  5. #5 by waterfrontcoolie on Tuesday, 23 March 2010 - 7:57 am

    YB, during normal time, the MOH still cannot find time to resolve problems related to his Ministry. At this moment, when his head is uncertain of a chance of survival; do you think he can be bothered? I think this country, over the past 25 years, must be the greatest squander in the ASEAN region! It is not only in the public projects but also in the private projects. We have created an environment of “easy” money with no sense of responsiblity nor accountability. Failed projects are just rebuilt with public funds; even those professional associations did not censure their members for wrong doings. Why? simple, after so many years of self illusion, nothing is sacred anymore. All accepted norms can be put aside so long that money can be made.
    It is a matter of very short time that we will join ZIMBABWE as it is. We are very good at sloganeering, creating mob-mentality and the sheer ability to ognore reality!!

  6. #6 by dagen on Tuesday, 23 March 2010 - 8:44 am

    Never highlight your problems mate. Never. Wrong move. Just live on and continue to suffer in silence. At least you will be less angry that way! And why do I say that? Because you are giving umno a reason/ an excuse to siphon another billion ringgit of your state money in the name of buidling health care and hospitals in your state.

  7. #7 by drngsc on Tuesday, 23 March 2010 - 9:11 am

    I did not realise that things are that bad. I thought that they bought Sabah Medical Center to avoid this. What a rip-off. Disgraceful. Sabahans, you deserve better, much much better. I hope that all Sabahans will remember this when they vote in GE13.

  8. #8 by Dap man on Tuesday, 23 March 2010 - 9:21 am

    I was personally told by a doctor that there have been cases of blotched surgery but covered by the hospital.
    Recently an accident victim with severe head injuries was rushed to this govt hospital. The doctors there told the family that he would die as the injuries were serious.
    The family then rushed him to a private hospital where they discovered some blood clot in the brain and saved him.
    Now the problem. This is a poor family and the hospital came to RM 20,000.
    More than 10 relatives of this victims chipped
    to settle the bill.
    There are too many young doctors without experience handling emergency cases and they fumble in confusion till they contact the specialist by phone for direction.

  9. #9 by Dap man on Tuesday, 23 March 2010 - 9:26 am

    The Ministers actually know the problem and they don’t care? Why?
    Because when they are sick they seek treatment overseas. Practically every minister and his family members do not trust our own health care system.
    They don’t even trust their education system!!
    Remember, even the rulers had to go overseas for physiotherapy treatment and surgery.
    Govt hospitals are only for the poor.. to go and hope for the best.

  10. #10 by Godfather on Tuesday, 23 March 2010 - 10:02 am

    “Do and be all that even though Sabah will most likely hand Barisan Nasional another landslide victory come next general election. ”

    This statement typifies the average Sabahan (and indeed, Sarawakian). They complain about poor services, inadequate facilities, neglect by the federal government. Yet, their intention is to continue to vote for BN at the next GE. When will all this whingeing end ? You don’t make an effort to change the government after 30+ years of broken promises ? You intend to live a lie after all the stealing in broad daylight that has been going on by the BN regime ?

    Nothing will change if you don’t vote for change.

  11. #11 by raven77 on Tuesday, 23 March 2010 - 11:22 am

    What to do….Liow too busy trying to screw CSL and OKT…while Merican too busy wheeling and dealing with Rosmah and screwing other doctors. You know what they say….you screw aroud with people’s lives….get preapared to face the same curse for the next 7 generations. Goodbye Liow, Goodbye Merican, may God forgive you …..

  12. #12 by All For The Road on Tuesday, 23 March 2010 - 11:31 am

    Our Health Minister is presently fighting for his life, politicallywise.

    So I wonder how he is going to care for the sick when he himself is ‘sick’ !

  13. #13 by yhsiew on Tuesday, 23 March 2010 - 12:05 pm

    It is unbelievable that Sabah, being one of the richest states in Malaysia in the past, could end up as a failed state!

    Sabahans must ask themselves why they have to endure such torture and suffering. Why can’t they have well-equipped hospitals as others do in the Peninsula? What happened to their oil money? What has gone wrong with Sabah leadership?

    Sabahans must do some deep thinking to enlighten themselves if they want to regain their self-esteem and dignity.

  14. #14 by Winston on Tuesday, 23 March 2010 - 12:40 pm

    Well, Doc, you said it all!
    Perhaps the only error, albeit a fatal one, made by the Malaysian electorate is that it puts absolute blind, faith in UMNO/BN.
    And they will meet their maker wondering why their life is so blighted!

  15. #15 by frankyapp on Tuesday, 23 March 2010 - 1:34 pm

    1 hospital sounded pretty good but Umno/Bn do not care.They talk only but no action. 47 years then and 47 years now,Sabah medical facilities have remained pretty deplorable. I think Mr Wong was among hundreds of thousand of such sick patient who was moved and turned around for the past 47 years.UmnoBn could built the Twin Towers and Putra-Jaya but not 1hospital in Sabah.I think Umno/BN should have shown people’s interest first and not pride first.

  16. #16 by johnnypok on Tuesday, 23 March 2010 - 3:06 pm

    Sabahans must unite and kick BN/UMNO out of Sabah, and to demand for full authority and management over the natural resouces.
    You can build big hospitals in all the major towns and cities, and even small villages, with world-class service and equiptment. No need to beg from KL at all. What a shame!

  17. #17 by cskok8 on Tuesday, 23 March 2010 - 4:19 pm

    If the money that had been spent on buying the Sabah Medical Centre (twice, I believe) had been spent on the QE2 itself, then it won’t be so “sakit” now. For those with short memories, the Likas hospital was the old SMC building, bought over by the caring BN govt for more than RM 200 million. As a benchmark around the same time, when Sime Darby tried to sell off its very successful Subang Jaya Medical Centre, it attracted bids lower than that. After buy the old SMC building the govt spent more money to refurbish it to transform it into Likas. With the money paid by the govt, SMC went on to build its current premises; which has now been bought over by the govt again. Why doesn’t the govt simply use the money to build a new hospital or renovate QE2??? Your guess is as good as mine.

  18. #18 by frankyapp on Tuesday, 23 March 2010 - 4:26 pm

    testing only

    [Sysadmin – We apologise for the delay in your comments appearing on the blog. It seems that all comments were marked as SPAM. Will look into the cause.]

  19. #19 by DCLXVI on Tuesday, 23 March 2010 - 8:39 pm

    chengho: “never know you ‘ve been to Vietnamese refuge camp old boy , u should ask Dap to set up hospital in KK .”

    Yes, shameful isn’t it when Umno-BN’s Sabah Medical Centre gets compared to a refugee camp?
    It appears the only other alternative is for the Sabahans to vote for Pakatan Rakyat in the next elections in order to stem the tide of this shameful quality of medical care in Sabah…

  20. #20 by tanjong8 on Tuesday, 23 March 2010 - 9:42 pm

    Remember Chengho was a eunuch in ancient China.

    one must not be a eunuch in facing UmnoUtusans.

  21. #21 by chengho on Tuesday, 23 March 2010 - 10:35 pm

    tan jong8,
    seem like u love and believe the modern me.

  22. #22 by cemerlang on Tuesday, 23 March 2010 - 11:25 pm

    Many have heard similar or worse stories. In fact, those who suffer can even be the medical staff themselves who become patients in the hospitals which they work in. Imagine going into the hospital conscious and coming out on the way to another world. Or imagine going in with only one type of germs only to gather other types of germs when allowed to go home. This case is very typical of helping each other to look for financial profits. The patients think that the medical staff knows what is best for them and so they do not mind being kicked around like a football and being made fools. People first. Performance now. Where got ? Things can never be better for as long as the Minister of Health is a MCA member engrossed in the party’s power struggle.

  23. #23 by p.s.nathan on Wednesday, 24 March 2010 - 8:41 am

    In the year 1987 the Sabah Govt. Dental services that had 23 Dental Officers and some 80 Dental Nurses extracted 192,000 teeth!! (that is Lorry loads of teeth, lost for good, buckets of Tears, and tankers of Blood Lost, unimaginable Pain and Psychological Stress to CHILDREN!) This figure included some 12,000+ Permanant Teeth in Primary School Children, and another 12,000+ Permanant Teeth in Secondary School Children.

    Coverage of the General population was poor and the situation with school Childern was Pathetic, as at that time there were only 23 Dental Officers serving in Sabah, most of whom were from Semenanjong and we had only about 80 Dental Nurses, while Sarawak had Double the number!!…for a slightly smaller population! In Sabah at that time the Primary School Children numbered something like 240,000 in 900+ Primary schools, and we had only 10 vechicles!… while the State of Perlis had 7 or 8 vechicles!!…and the Wilayah (Pop:1,400,000) Dental Service had 37 Dental Officers, with a population far less than that of Sabah (Pop:1,800,000+) Added to this problem the Survey carried out among the School Children showed that Disease levels were more than Double of that in Wilayah/Semenanjong.

    To add to these woes the then State Government decided to suspend the Fluoridation of Water Supplies in the State!!While Health was a Federalk resposibilty, Water was a state responsibilty.
    This was in spite of the Fact that Fluoridation of Water Supplies was recomended even by an expert Committee of the World Health Organisatrion…and is established as “The most Cost-Effective Public
    Health Measure known to Man’.

    As a result of a combination of mis-steps both by the Ministry of Health and the State Government, I estimate that about 300,000-350,000 PERMANT Teeth have been extracted in the School Children, Yes!!…SCHOOL CHILDREN of Sabah over the last 20 years!…Who is Responsible for such a “Destructive Care(?)” Surely WE Owe the Children of SABAH Something Far Better!!…but Who Cares??…Year after year we produce the Annual Health Management Information Reports..for 28 years now…with the 29th one for the year 2009 probably in print!…but after all these years We have not leveled the ‘playing field’ with regard to Health!

    Democracy is All about “EQUITY ” ( Not Equal, but it means More for those More/Most in NEED) in Health, Education, Opportunities, Infrastructure etc;

    In this respect I refer you to the World Health Assembly’s call in 1978, for “HEALTH FOR ALL by The Year 2000″…I believe Malaysia was one of the signatories(?) to this Document.

    In enunciating that Goal, some basic Principles were laid down, among themThat GOAL evisaged some Basic Priciples, among them…

    “When All Cannot be served those Most in Need should be given Priority”!!…Priciple of Equtiy in Health…Whatever has Happened to ALL those Slogans, expensive World Health Day launches, Beautifull Speeches Up and Down the Country, by Ministers, Directors, Politicians of all shades?….Cakap Tak Sama Bikin!!…Wither MALAYSIA???

    Though all my figures above are from memory, because I left Sabah some 19 years ago,I am comfident that they are pretty accurate!

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