I just came in after my daily “tukang kebun” routine this morning when I saw the red light blinking on my hand phone. Red light blinking means there’s a missed call. I checked, and saw not one, but 3 missed calls. All came from Halimah.
So I returned her call to find out what was up. It must have been important, otherwise she wouldn’t have attempted a few times to get hold of me.
Apparently she had to be warded again at the Ipoh GH. Again, it was due to her blood pressure shooting up. The last time she was warded, she had to pay a deposit before admission and the balance upon discharge. Problem is, Halimah and her husband depends on the little income they earn from selling kuih every morning. Not much at all. Her husband just used to do “kerja kampong”, so no such thing as pension for him. Not knowing where to turn to, last time they just paid the RM30 or so. Not much maybe to many of us, but to the poor, with that money you can buy FOOD.
For those who can’t remember, Halimah is the pregnant lady to whom I was just assigned to quite recently. This is her first pregnancy with the present husband. She had 4 children from her previous marriage. No, she usually doesn’t have hypertension,only started having the problem ever since she got pregnant. And since the couple sells kuih to earn an income, Halimah has to wake very early in the morning, as early as 3 am, to make the kuih. And with a whole lot of worries such as how to meet their needs when she gives birth to the baby, Halimah has a lot of things on her mind now. Manalah darah tak naik!
Well anyway, she did call me the last time she was warded, and I told her to go to the hospital’s welfare unit to ask for exemption from payment. Both Halimah and her husband was about to go to the welfare unit, when suddenly a nurse chased her and told her she couldn’t go out of the ward until payment is settled. Although Halimah told them she wasn’t going to run away, they told her it is the procedure now to avoid people going home without paying. That happens quite often it seems. Duh, so if she didn’t have any money to pay, she should just stay there in the ward until somebody “bails” her out, huh? Anyway, since Halimah couldn’t leave the ward, her husband went, and the officer told him to get some letters first. Not knowing how to go about, he gave up and just paid.
This time, during admission, the husband begged to postpone paying the deposit as he did not have enough cash with him. He needed some cash for bus fares to go back home. They stay in another town. And upon being told by the doctor that she may be discharged today, she started worrying how to pay. She did tell the doctor that while she personally didn’t mind being warded, she couldn’t afford to pay. The doctor replied, “Bukannya mahal.”
Yep, RM3 per day may not be expensive, but when every single sen matters, RM3 a day is a lot of money.
And so today Halimah decided to call me to seek my help. I knew it wouldn’t be easy to arrange for all the necessary letters within just a day, so I told her to call me again once it is confirmed she is to be discharged. I figured today I might as well just pay up first and later claim from our Clients Welfare Fund. I got to the hospital about 2.40 pm and told Halimah I’d wait at the payment counter. Since Halimah couldn’t leave the ward, her husband met me there, gave me the discharge slip and I proceeded to make payment. Halimah was warded for 2 days, so 2 x RM3 should be just RM6, right? Well, yeah for the ward charges. I paid RM36. There was an additional RM30 for some lab tests.
Anyway, after paying for the hospital charges and while waiting at the pharmacy for Halimah’s medication, I had a chat with her husband. Halimah was then still in the ward as she wasn’t allowed to go anywhere until payment is made.
Without Halimah around, it was easier for me to get some background info on Halimah’s children from her first marriage. Apparently after her first husband died, a few of his aunties took the children under their care. 1 aunt to 1 child. And so all the children stays with different families. Halimah even has a pair of twins, both now staying separately. But what shocked me more was that one of the twins, now about 16 or so, has stopped schooling after she completed primary school! I asked if the aunt taking care of the girl was from a poor family.
“Lebih dari mampu,” said Halimah’s husband. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear… whatever happened to the child’s right to education??
Well, while we do cover for children’s education through our sponsorship program and CEF, we cannot help out Halimah’s daughter as she is being taken care by another family. We cannot monitor her progress and we can’t be too sure if the financial assistance is misused by the aunt.
With Halimah’s HIV, she will very likely not go through normal delivery. And based on past experiences, chances are, when she delivers some time in March or April, she will need to spend at least a few days in the ward. And there will be labour charges, and whatever other charges added to her bill. That bill will definitely be much more than today’s bill.
My colleague is trying to arrange to get a letter from the welfare department to exempt the couple from having to pay for charges at government hospitals. But in case that doesn’t work out, I taught both Halimah and her husband what to do the next time she comes to Ipoh GH for her appointments. I told her to go see SN at the HIV clinic, to arrange for a referral letter from the clinic to the hospital’s welfare unit. With the letter, at least the officer there can proceed to process their request. Otherwise, anyone can go there claiming they have this and that wanting exemption from paying the hospital charges.
From the hospital, I sent Halimah and her husband to the bus station for them to get a bus back home. And today being the last working day before the CNY holidays, Ipoh sudah jam maaa!! It took me quite some time to get them from the hospital to the bus station; and for me to get home from the bus station.
And just as I got home, a call came in from Kak Ana. She was at the hospital as Anita had to be hospitalised. Aduh, too tired to go out again lah, so I think I will visit her tomorrow, if she’s still warded then.