“Another issue about attire? Now, it’s the hospital!”

Letter to Editor

JUST less than two weeks ago, a complainant brought to light her problem with attire when she was not allowed to enter the district police headquarters to lodge a police report.

Understandably, she had had an accident and wanted to lodge the police report before settling down at home.

Now, a young woman who was suffering from acute stomach pain was refused treatment at the emergency centre of the Kampar Hospital by a nurse, just because she was still wearing her pair of short pants when she was rushed to the hospital.

She was at a badminton match, and with sharp stomach pain, she couldn’t have gone home to change into proper attire before entering the hospital.

I see this as a problem of lack of compassion for a sick patient, and where the nurse is concerned, the medical assistant had no right to refuse the young woman the medical treatment that she needed just because of her attire.

Her attitude is deplorable, and she, together with the hospital director, owes the family of the girl an apology. The public apology should also be made before the press.

Root cause

The other problem I see is the failure of both the ministry’s senior officers, in this case the ministry secretary-general and the director-general to deal with similar complaints in the past.

This is probably not the only incident, except that this has been brought into broad daylight so that improvements can be effected in the healthcare system.

Some heads should roll when issues like this and the bullying cases keep cropping up; instead, what we are hearing today are complaints of a grand farewell dinner at the Putra World Trade Center (PWTC) that cost RM250 per person, which medical personnel had to pay when their hospital director retired.

The ministry should immediately put a stop to this and instead address issues on the ground that directly affect the carers and the patients’ wellbeing.

Recently, I went to a health clinic in my area. While walking up the stairs, the slipper on my left leg hit the front side of the next step, and I fell. I wrote to the Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah on Jan 27, 2023.

While most people would not bother, I took the time this morning to remind him of his obligation to respond to my email.

Honestly, for a small complaint like this, I did not even have to copy the Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa but looking at the lack of response from someone as senior as Noor Hisham, I decided that his minister should also be aware of the complaint.

In the event of any injury to any of the patients, the minister should know this is not the fault of the clinic staff, who are similarly subjected to the poor facilities that have been there for the past 11 years.

I dread to think that, during an emergency evacuation, anyone would trip while trying to escape on the staircase.

Do the senior members of the ministry care about what is happening on the ground?

Throughout his entire time serving as director-general at the Health Ministry, I wonder how frequently Noor Hisham has visited the hospitals and health clinics to find out about the welfare of the medical staff working round the clock to care for the patients.

A number of issues have arisen now that everyone sees some hope for problems being solved. Noor Hisham has a lot to say about why, even in this emergency, the young woman was denied entry into Kampar hospital.

I suppose, even if there is an accident, where someone is wearing shorts and a singlet, the accident victim would have to go home to have his attire changed before being admitted into the hospital.

Good leaders are an asset

It takes a good leader to go to the ground and address the issue himself.

Noor Hisham should just go to the hospital in his shorts and t-shirt and see if anyone dares refuse him entry. After all, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was wearing only a pair of sandals, and since the day he became the country’s PMX, I have yet to see him wearing a tie, which is hardly Asian at all.

Whatever the hospital’s standard operating procedures (SOP), now that this issue has cropped up, both the hospital director and the director-general should be directly responsible for it. They should ensure that the staff is taught that, above all SOPs, the care of patients’ well-being should be a top priority.

Attire should not even be the issue at all. It is not only Malaysians who are wearing shorts, sandals and t-shirts. While waiting for some friends at the Corus Hotel, a four-star hotel in Jalan Ampang, I noticed a group of Japanese-speaking young people walking past me.

They were wearing t-shirts, some in their singlets, and most of them were walking in their sandals. What appeared to be a young local man was wearing a black singlet, a pair of short pants and was walking in his slippers.

None of them was blocked by the security guards from adhering to the proper attire rules. The only indecency is if one of them decides to take off his clothes and start walking around naked; otherwise, these young people have their own fashion sense. — Feb 15, 2023


Stephen Ng
Kuala Lumpur

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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