By Ravindran Raman Kutty
2020 arrived with an unforeseeable and unexpected plan to begin my new year.
My family and I had just ushered in the New Year at my niece's birthday party when I received a phone call from my mother.
The time was 12:05 am sharp. My heart was filled with excitement in wishing her Happy New Year. However, such joy was abruptly stopped when she spoke, calmly and clearly, "I had a fall. I am bleeding. Come home now."
I felt instant shivers running down my spine. Quickly, with my wife and daughter in tow, equally worried, I jumped into my car and rushed from Ampang to my mom's home in Damansara Utama. On the way, I called my elder brother in Taman Tun Dr Ismail to rush to her aid as he was nearer to her house.
At 12:30 am we were with mom. She was very calm and subdued. My sister and nephew cleaned the bloodstains on her, and then we quickly took her to KPJ Damansara.
As mom had a deep cut at the back of her head, a CT scan was performed. At approximately 1:30 am, the results showed there was a blood clot that would require surgery. I asked to speak to the neurosurgeon regarding the surgery, but as quick as they were in treating my mother, the medical facility was equally fast in demanding a large security deposit prior to meeting my request.
I was not financially incapable of making the payment, but rather reluctant at doing so. This hospital is known for its great doctors and facilities, but sadly, regardless of how critical or serious the patient's condition may be, it was cents before sense.
After discussing with my siblings, we decided to take mom to Hospital Sungai Buloh. The government hospital was developed in 1999 at a cost of RM1.3 billion and has been initiated to meet the needs of the growing population of Klang Valley and reduce the influx of patients at Hospital Kuala Lumpur.
At 2:00 am, the hospital was chaotic, filled with patients sitting at the outpatient clinic, waiting patiently for their turn to see the doctor. The ambiance was cold but reflected pain and despair among the patients.
One of the specialist doctors attended to mom. She was wheeled into the emergency bay for her condition to be monitored. After a series of X-rays and blood tests, she was wheeled to Ward 7B, the neurology ward.
She was administered a sedative, told to rest as she had not slept a wink all this time. Throughout the entire night's ordeal, I had been by mom's side all the way. Once she had fallen asleep, my elder brother and sister-in-law sat vigil at her side as I quickly dashed home for a quick shower before returning to the hospital.
The staff and doctors at ICU and Ward 7B were simply excellent. They were professional, efficient and had fabulous bedside manners with patients. They saw no race, no color and no barriers in serving the sick. I saw patients of all ages being admitted into the hospital for a sickness, ill health, or an injury due to a fall or an accident. With the vigilant care provided by the dedicated doctors and outstanding nurses, these same patients were able to go home in a few days. Mom was warded for many days, and during my turn to accompany her overnight, I witnessed the purest service rendered by the divine angels called nurses and the diligent doctors. They were selfless in providing their service to patients.
Even the security team was all so dedicated and compassionate in carrying out their tasks. On the second day at the ward, when I paid mom a visit in the morning, I was surprised to find a packet of food left on mom's bedside table. When I enquired, a young security personnel came to me to say that she had bought the breakfast for my mother. I was so touched by the mountainous gesture of this young lady, who may not even be earning much.
This is the first time I have ever encountered or dealt with a government hospital. The government spends billions on our healthcare scheme. The World Health Organization (WHO) has certified that we are the best country in the world for healthcare. I am totally impressed with the service, dedication, quality, bedside mannerism, expertise and overall administration at Hospital Sungai Buloh. The hospital is the center for neurosurgery in Klang Valley and is outstanding.
I had the rare opportunity to meet, chat and also communicate via WhatsApp with most of the doctors who were working round the clock taking care of my mother. They were all very knowledgeable, courteous and full of empathy in dealing with my 89-year-old mother. They were always approachable, amiable and truly concerned with the patient's overall well-being. The doctors, especially those at ICU, had taken time off from their busy schedule to sit down with our family to explain our mother's condition.
I have nothing against private hospitals, but if they are keen only on the money and forget their role as caregivers to the sick, how are we going to trust them in providing us with proper treatment? It is sad that most private hospitals are just money-making establishments, whereas government hospitals are institutions that truly care for the poor, unfortunate, aged, physically challenged, accident victims and terminally ill. I must congratulate and commend the government and the government hospital management for their priceless dedication and perseverance in carrying out a daunting job 24/7.
I must mention a beautiful observation that I made while I was next to my mother at the hospital. I saw several critical accident cases with victims being rushed in, their bodies covered in blood, appearances scary. Many could not walk, some screaming in agonizing pain, some unconscious. Within days, I saw the same people walking, looking clean and even speaking calmly. This is an unforgettable moment for me. It says two things…one God is great and the other, medical service is an indelible service that gives mankind hope and confidence.
My mother had never been hospitalized before that. She was a strong woman who had always remained stable, sober and very alert. At the age of 89, mom had a fall, followed by a seizure, cardiac arrest and finally succumbed to the MRSA bug. She died a brave lady.
While my siblings and I are mourning the loss of our most endearing mother, we are equally pleased and satisfied with the service and care rendered to her, 24/7, with utmost care and love. My mom could have survived without the infection of the MRSA bug; she still lives in our hearts and minds of everyone who knows her. She is a formidable force who has left a big vacuum in our lives.
(Ravindran Raman Kutty is an active social worker.)