Just earlier this week, Erin, one of the children who were covered under our Education Sponsorship for Children program, texted me to inform me that she had completed her final exams for her diploma course. She’s back home and looking around for a job, hoping to get one in Ipoh so that she can be near her mother, Aini, who has multiple health problems. Since Erin had expressed her interest to be a volunteer before, I asked if she’d like to join me in my voluntary work visits. She was excited at the possibility, saying she’s more than willing to do that.
Yesterday Erin sent me another message. This time to tell me that her mother had been hospitalised. Since I was out this morning to meet up with an Orang Asli mualaf (NOT one of my HIV cases) who was seeking help to learn more about Islam, I figured I might as well go visit Aini at the hospital after that.
As I was driving to the hospital, I received another message from Erin, saying that her mother had to go through some tests including CT scan, to find out why there were excess water in her lungs. Very likely she’d also have to start her dialysis since she also has kidney problems. Apparently the nurses had already wheeled her out of the ward to go to the necessary departments to get the various tests done.
As I reached the hospital, I called Erin to ask where they were. They just got back to the ward. The nurses had forgotten that today was Friday, which meant the various departments close early and would only reopen after Friday prayers.
Poor Aini was in and out of hospital quite frequently of late. Hospital bills were not an issue earlier when Aini was a recipient of the JKM’s monthly financial aid. But ever since her health condition got worse, her family decided that she should move in to stay with her parents. Otherwise during the day she’d be alone at home. Erin, her eldest, was studying at a polytechnic in another state, her 2nd son, who didn’t do well in his SPM was doing odd jobs during the day time, while her youngest son was still in school.
Well, staying at her parent’s house seemed like a good idea. Indeed, it was the best solution they could think of. That was until Aini’s monthly financial aid from JKM had to be reviewed. The officer who reviewed her case told her to include her father’s pension in the household income. The moment that was done, Aini no longer qualified to get monthly financial aid from JKM.
Without the monthly financial aid, Aini’s father was the one who ended up having to support more dependants in the house. With Aini needing to use adult diapers, and with more mouths to feed, that’s not a small amount for her father to cover.
Previously, with the JKM card she held as a recipient of their financial aid, every time she was hospitalised, all she had to do was show the card at the payment counter and she’d be exempted from paying the bills. Now that she is no longer a recipient of JKM’s monthly aid, she no longer has that privilege. She has to pay every time she is warded. The only exemption is if she’s warded because of anything HIV-related. In her case, most of the time it’s her other ailments that requires her to be hospitalised. We did help them from time to time with their hospital bills, but after some time, they became too embarrassed to ask again. Right now her bills for her previous 2 hospitalisation has reached RM1K, which is still outstanding. Now that she’s hospitalised again, and having to go through so many tests, am sure the bill may probably come up to another RM500.
Now that Erin is back home, she has submitted an appeal to the hospital welfare unit for a discount. Still waiting for response. She also went to Baitulmal to seek assistance to pay her mother’s hospital bills, but although there was a possibility to get help from them, they requested that Aini pay the bills first before submitting the receipts and other documents to Baitulmal to get a reimbursement. I can understand that there may have been irresponsible recipients before who used the money they got for something else instead of what the money was requested for, but how on earth is Aini supposed to pay first when she’s not earning anything at all?
Worse, when Aini needs to start her dialysis, she’d have to go to the hospital 3 times a week. That involves transportation costs.
I suggested to Erin to apply for monthly financial aid from Baitulmal, now that they are no longer getting any financial aid from JKM. Whatever it is, I told her to update me on the outcome. If need be, I will try to find other sources.
Erin has a job interview to attend this coming Monday. I do hope it will have a favourable outcome.