Ms Kaw Jik Hoon’s 73-year old mother had suffered a sudden high fever on 1 June.
So, she took the elderly lady, who also has dementia, to the accident and emergency department of the Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH).
Ms Kaw’s mother was diagnosed with chronic urinary tract infection and needed to be admitted to receive intravenous antibiotics.
What happened next, however, was unexpected.
“As a subsidised patient, she is eligible for a bed in a B2 ward. However, due to a bed crunch, she was placed in the corridor of Ward 10C for four days,” Ms Kaw said in her letter to the press.
“During these four days, besides trying to recover from the infection, she also had to put up with sleeping on an A&E bed, which is narrower and more uncomfortable than a ward bed, a lack of privacy, noise, and more difficulty in getting to a bathroom.”
She was then told that if there were discharges, her mother could be placed in one of the rooms.
“Thus, I followed up with the nurses every day. I even told them that I did not mind any ward as long as my mother was put in a proper room and bed,” she said.
When she saw that there were empty rooms in the ward, she thought her mother – who had already been in the corridor for 4 days – would be moved to one of the rooms.
However, she was told that the beds were reserved for others.
“I was flabbergasted and decided to discharge my mother and go to a private hospital, as I did not want her to sleep in the corridor any more,” Ms Kaw said.
But to her surprise, when she requested the discharge, she was told that her mother could in fact move into one of the rooms immediately.
“When I asked why my request to move was denied earlier, the nurse said she was not sure, as the bed allocation was done by another department. I asked to speak with the bed management administrator, but was told that I could not.”
“The bed allocation issue adds on unnecessary pressure,” she said.
“I urge the hospital to be more transparent and to have clearer communication with patients and their family members on bed allocation matters.”
The shortage of hospital beds has been a recurring problem in Singapore for many years.
In 2014, the news reported that some hospitals were facing severe bed crunch, and patients had to be housed in tent, corridors or be sent to other hospitals.