Monday, May 11, 2009

Breathe Easy Now

I accompanied Wifey to Changi General Hospital today.

I thought the Swine Flu alert level in Singapore was brought down back to yellow, the lowest of 5 levels, a few days ago so there was no longer a need for flu or fever screening before entering the premise.

Yet, unsurprisingly, we were met with a long queue of people being screened at the makeshift blocked entrance as soon as we alighted from the cab at the drop-off point.

Though seemed like it was a long queue, both patients and visitors were processed rather quickly. It was rather an interesting experience, having to go through the actual process after reading about it numerous times since during the first SARS outbreak some years back.

When it was our turn at the counter, we were made to produce our ID cards to the staff who were all dressed in yellow smocks and full-grade face masks. Followed by the once too often, but nevertheless important “Are you feeling feverish or having flu?” question on our present general health… which was none to both.

Our names and residential address were keyed into the computer for traceability purposes in case of any breach detected in the hospital that day before the IDs were returned back to us.

We had to state our purpose of visit to distinguish between patient seeking medical attention and the visitor that was me. We got our IDs back and given face mask each.

Wifey as given a different type of face mask while I got the elastic ear loop ones. We were also handed two plastic chips - one green and the other blue before proceeding to the entrance that was armed with a thermal imaging scanner to detect for any feverish people. Not so sure what the colored chips meant though… either distinguishing between man and woman or patient and visitor.

Once given admission, a blue oval sticker with the current date was pasted onto our clothes and the two chips surrendered back.

Everyone was to wear the masks at all times as long as we were in the hospital cordoned area.

Wifey’s specialty Clinic C for asthmatic patients is on the second floor. She registered herself and was given a queue number 1503 for consultation Room 3. About 20 minutes later, she was called into the doctor’s room.

The doctor's examination did not take long, but the consultation on the reinforcement of habits and medication administration by the Staff Nurse was. They cannot emphasize enough on the importance of asthmatic patients to avoid allergens and exhaustion that could trigger asthma, and the consistency of taking the correct dosage daily.

We have modified our home to rid of unnecessary allergens such as carpets and dander from pets, but I guess too much housework for a house-proud Wifey, coupled with too much excitement from the previous day’s Mother’s day celebration dinner and the weeks of stress she felt for Sonny preparing for his midyear exams had taken a toll on her otherwise controlled condition.

We collected Wifey’s four months supply of inhalants cost S$87.60 after a 40% subsidy at the Pharmacy on the ground floor. With so many people and so much activities going on there, added with all the flashing of queue numbers on the side boards and at each counter, it was like a stock trading place.

Wifey was very glad we could finally get rid of the masks at the exit point as she felt harder to breathe with it on. All visitors departing the hospital was asked to use the hand sanitizer supplied at the exit as a protection to not inadvertently introduce any to the external public.

Fortunately, her condition is not serious and in fact, she has been given a lighter dosage for her few months supply of inhalants.


  1. Hi's good that they are being vigilant with regards to the flu situation and the attempts to prevent its further spread.
    We only have a handful of confirmed cases here in the far.I hope it stays that way too.Jeepers...just when you think it's safe to go back in the water...
    Glad wifey is OK and her condition seems under control.
    Good to read about your life and how things are going.

  2. I'm glad she's OK. I recall when I first started reading your blog, she was having a terrible time with asthma.

    She deserves to be in the best of health!

  3. screening before entering? what a noval idea! that never hapenes in hospitals here. it would make sence, though.
    glad all others are o.k.

  4. Good news that your wife's asthma is under control. It is good to hear also that your medical system is taking excellent care of your family in reasonable time, with reasonable prices. Not having to worry about care is probably the biggest stress-reducer of all!

  5. Hello Friends.

    Glad you could visit. Thank you.

    Ellen | Outside the US, UK was hit by the disease quite fast. It was scary to read the news of its spread due to accessibility of transportation between countries.

    Hope I don't jump the gun here but fortunately, the disease is not as easily contagious as SARS. Our neighboring country just got their first confirmed imported case yesterday. A student came back from the US and developed the symptoms 3 days after arrival.

    Donna | Yes. Wifey had the most terrible asthma asymptom I had witnessed in all my life with her. It was scary and I felt helpless not able to do anything to alleviate her sufferings.

    Fortunately, after the treatment and being a member of the asthma support group by the hospital, she has not gotten any attack since and has come back to her normal healthy self again.

    The biking is still not an option for her at the moment, so outings with family is always with transport. Biking on weekends has become my alone time for now.

    Andrew | After the SARS pandemic, all hospitals and clinics here, including private ones practice screening of people entering the buildings.

    Schools and workplaces practice fever checks. Each of us were given a thermometer to check at home and at work and to stay home if we recorded a fever. It was nationwide practice that limited the spread almost overnight. It made everyone felt safe again to go about the daily life with just some inconveniences until it was over.

    Living in a small country and in close proximity in high density living made it crucial for all to do that. Having a small population of 4.5 million people then made it doable.

    Mompoet | So far common illnesses have very affordable rates with high standards of healthcare. The subsidized rates for operations tend to still be quite expensive, but payment plans to help individual needs and other welfare institutions helping out lessen the financial burden of many citizens here.

    No one is deprived of medical treatment here as far as the government is concern.

    Being in a country where the only natural resource is the manpower, the government takes care of our living and medical needs justifiably and reasonably good.

    Like common practices by many countries, all citizens here have Central Providence Fund, a monthly contribution from ones a portions of one's salary and from one's employer's combined.

    The money is channeled into one's own life saver account for home buying, investments and especially medical fees, as well as pension for old age after retirement age of 62 now from 55 a few years ago.

    So many aim and take conscious effort to stay healthy, aided by many government healthy lifestyle programs and promotions. So healthy living is stressed so that we are not stressed-out by the medical bills, I think.

    Thank you all again for coming in and giving warm well wishes. Have a great weekend.


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Muhd Imran
PAL Blogger