On Monday (13 May), a netizen by the name Isabella Alexandria Lim took to her Facebook to share the terrible experience that she and her family endured while her grandmother was warded at Changi General Hospital (CGH).
In her post, Ms Lim stated that it all started on 19 February when the family had to admit her grandmother at CGH after she suffered a fall at home. Due to the fall, the senior citizen had a “compression fracture” and was asked to stay back in the hospital. However, during the stay, Ms Lim’s grandmother’s dementia deteriorated, which resulted to her crying all day.
As such, the family decided to bring her back home, but unfortunately, she contracted Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) and was not allowed to be discharged.
Thankfully, on 4 April, the doctors noted that her grandmother was allowed to return home as she no longer has UTI. However, they had to return back to the hospital only three days later as her UTI was not completely cured.
“My grandma continued to be warded and on 18th April, the doctors finally transferred her to ward 68, a dementia ward, so she could receive better care for her dementia condition. Ward 68 was where things went downhill. My grandma’s appetite declined and she complained of stomach aches and vomited blood. The doctors suspected she had ischemic bowel but because of a few reasons (e.g. old age and poor kidney function), a contrast dye scan to confirm the diagnosis and surgery was not an option for her. The doctors told us that she would most likely die because were no other treatment options except palliative care,” she wrote.
Unfortunately, a week later, the doctors told the family that her grandmother’s condition has worsen and she only has a few days or a week to live. Following this, the doctors “started her on feeding tube” and removed her IV fluids due to water retention.
When the doctors at CGH told the family that her grandmother has only a limited time to live, Ms Lim decided to stay in the hospital to accompany her during her last few days. This is when Ms Lim “saw how some of the nurses and doctors were unprofessional, unsympathetic and insensitive towards” towards her grandmother and her family.
The first thing that she noticed was that the hospital failed to update the family members on all information regarding the senior woman. This is because they gave her morphine without informing anyone in the family.
Secondly, the staffs were also unsympathetic and insensitive towards them. For instance, the nurse removed the heated blanked that her grandmother was required to use after a week, citing that it’s costly to use it every day.
The nurses also took no initiative to change the patient’s diapers or change her position to avoid bedsores. They only do it when they were requested by Ms Lim’s family.
If that is not all, the on-call doctor during one of the days was also “unprofessional and rude” as she told them that she don’t know anything about her grandmother’s situation without taking any effort to read her file.
In addition to that, the staffs at CGH also refused to run another round of blood test as they don’t see the point of doing so as the senior citizen’s condition remains the same.
After enduring a terrible experience, and witnessing the lack of care and insensitive remarks from CGH, Ms Lim’s family decided to transfer her grandmother to National University Hospital (NUH), despite not receiving approval from the doctors.
“We decided to transfer her against the doctors’ advice. We figured that if she was going to pass away regardless of the transfer or not, we would rather place her somewhere where she could receive dedicated care. We were asked to sign a release form stating that CGH will not be liable should anything happen and they kept emphasizing on the fact that my grandma would most likely pass in the ambulance,” she wrote.
Adding to the horrible service, her primary care doctor also refused to speak to NUH as it was required when transferring patients to a different hospital. The nurses also declined to book an ambulance for the transfer.
However, upon admission at NUH, Ms Lim noted that her grandmother received a much better care, although they couldn’t do much to rectify her condition.
“My grandma was immediately placed under end-of-life care and we were given booklets and guides on how to cope with end of life. My grandma was given heel sponges to prevent further bedsores and compression stockings for her severe water retention – none of which were done by CGH,” she said.
Although her grandmother passed away three day later on 5 May, Ms Lim mentioned that “she was comfortable and she was treated with respect and dignity”.
As such, she urged CGH to relook at their training towards their staffs for end-of-life protocols, as well as learn how to treat “families who are going through a difficult time”.
Upon reading her post, many netizens penned down their comments and voiced out their dissatisfaction towards CGH on how they treated a patient. A few of them shared their personal experience of seeing how badly their family members were treated while being admitted at these hospitals. Belicia Lim said that no one should ward their loved ones at CGH as both her grandparents were given poor care while they were there.
Based on Ms Lim’s story, other online users urged CGH to step up their game and re-train their staffs so they will be able to take care of their patients better. They also hoped that her post will receive more attention so it will put more pressure on the hospital to fix their below-par service.
In the comment section, Ms Lim stated that CGH had gotten back to her and will need time to respond as they are investigating this incident. She also highlighted that she is not blaming all staffs of CGH, but just a few who treated her grandmother with no care and compassion. However, she did thank the doctors and nurses for all the things they have done for her grandmother during her stay, but hoped they would put themselves in the patient’s or family’s shoes.