During my clinic duty last week, 2 cases of homeless PLHIV were referred to me: Lee and Kasim Teoh.
Lee was initially warded at Ipoh Hospital but later transferred to Batu Gajah hospital because he was supposed to have been discharged but he didn’t have a home to go back to. So they sent him to Batu Gajah instead. Kasim Teoh was still in Ipoh GH.
SN had already found 2 shelter homes for them including a Muslim home for Kasim, who became a Muslim about 5 years ago. However, since the 2 were supposed to be discharged, not transferred, use of hospital transportation was out of the question. So SN sought my help to arrange for transportation.
I managed to get someone to sponsor the transportation cost, even a taxi, but SN advised against letting them go on their own. I wouldn’t mind sending them, but these are guys… I’d need a male volunteer to help out as well. I finally got one of our young male volunteer to agree to come along.
I was hoping to meet up with the person in charge of the Muslim home as I didn’t know about the home until SN told me about it.
But just after I finalised plans with SN to send the 2 to KL on Thursday (today), SN called to inform me that Kasim had passed away the night before. So there was only Lee left to send. I sought SN’s help to make the necessary arrangements regarding the referral letters from the ID specialist and the discharge letters from the district hospital.
So this morning I left home at 8 am, went to the Buddies Centre to fetch my colleague, then off to Ipoh GH ID clinic to get the referral letter from SN. Thank goodness I had a colleague with me so I didn’t have to worry about parking the car. I waited in the car while my colleague went to get the letter, the phone number of the person in charge of the shelter home, and to get SN to call the district hospital to inform them that we were on our way.
From Ipoh GH, on to Batu Gajah Hospital. When we got to the ward, Lee was on his bed, still in hospital clothes. Duh! I thought SN had called them to inform them we were coming and to make sure he was ready?? Well, never mind, I thought, I just told him to get ready. He got up, tidied up the hospital clothes he was wearing and took out a small plastic bag from the drawer by his bedside.
“You tak tukar baju ka?” I asked.
“Baju tadak!” he replied.
Yikes, were we supposed to bring him with us in his hospital clothes?! Had I known earlier he didn’t have any clothes, I would have brought along some of the used clothes we still have at our center. But I wasn’t about to drive back all the way to Ipoh to get the clothes.
I then went to ask the nurse. She asked if we could arrange to return the hospital clothes to them later. Adoi… bila masa pulak nak hantar balik baju ni once we bring the guy to KL?
It was about 9.15 am then. Most of the shops in Batu Gajah were not opened yet. Thank goodness we managed to find one minimarket opened. So I passed some money to my colleague and got him to go down and buy 2 pairs of tee-shirts and trackbottoms. I wasn’t about to let Lee out in town in his hospital clothes, people may think we kidnapped him from the hospital! My colleague didn’t take too long. He got back into the car with a plastic bag of new tee-shirts and trackbottoms and passed me the receipt. On the receipt, printed in English was, “Goods sold are not returnable.” Then came the translation in Malay, “Seluar dalam tidak boleh ditukar.” Errrrr…. helloo??? (we didn’t buy any seluar dalam for Lee though…)
Anyway, since we were still in Batu Gajah town, we decided to go back to the hospital so Lee could change his clothes and we could return the hospital clothes immediately instead of having to come back later. The moment he came out of the toilet with his new clothes, his friends in the ward all teased him, “Waaaa… banyak handsome laaa!!” They had never seen him in anything other than hospital clothes before!!
That done, we continued our journey to Sg Buluh Hospital. It was about 10 am then. The shelter home is in Batu Arang, but SN made arrangements with the people at the shelter home to come pick Lee up at Sg Buluh Hospital to make it easier for us. It would be nearer for us. Besides, they do go to the hospital almost every day as they have other PLHIVs at their home needing to go for their appointments.
We reached Sg Buluh Hospital at about 11.45 am. The moment we got in the entrance, I told my colleague to call the person in charge of the shelter home. We were then told to wait near the cafeteria. So I dropped off Lee and my colleague in front of the cafeteria and went to look for parking. Lucky me I managed to find a parking space within just a few minutes.
I then went to join Lee and my colleague who were waiting near the cafeteria. No sight of anyone from the shelter home yet. We didn’t know how this person looked like and he didn’t know how we looked like either. So I called the person and he said he was in a white van in front of the guards near the cafeteria. I then turned around and saw a guy in a white van, talking on the phone. Oh yes, he was talking to me!
We immediately told Lee to get into the van, and I passed all the necessary documents to the guy from the shelter home. I also told him that Lee doesn’t have any clothes except the ones he was wearing and the extra pair we had bought earlier today. The guy told me he’d take care of it.
So yes, job done - handed over the responsibility to the shelter home. I was hungry by then, and since we were already near the cafeteria, I figured we might as well have our lunch there, and then left immediately after lunch. Just made one more stop in Tapah for prayers and managed to reach Ipoh in time for me to attend a meeting at 3 pm…