A mother and her newborn baby had to endure three days of 'horror' when they were quarantined in an old maternity ward at Kuala Lumpur Hospital (HKL) after testing positive for COVID-19
In an open letter to the Ministry of Health (MOH), its minister Khairy Jamaluddin, and Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, she described the deplorable condition of the facilities provided to mothers being treated for the virus and called for action to be taken for patients who are still warded in the run-down ward.
"I was very sad and wanted to run away when I saw the state of the quarantine area for mothers and babies," Alia Nordin wrote in an Instagram post on 31 March, which has since been liked almost 28,000 times as of writing.
"Eight hours of horror, I was scared to go to the toilet. At dawn, I finally gathered my courage to go to the toilet."
According to Alia, even though they were in a maternity ward, there were not even any clean basic facilities for breastfeeding and pumping mothers
The sink was unsanitary to wash feeding and pumping equipment, let alone to bathe a baby in.
The refrigerator provided for storing breast milk looked like it had not been cleaned for some time.
There was no designated breastfeeding or pumping space either, which left Alia and other patients no choice but to do so in front of one another.
When asked about whether there were other wards or rooms available at the time, Alia told this SAYS writer that there were patients who were transferred from the newer parts of the hospital to the old maternity ward, even though there were vacant beds and rooms in the new ward.
She also told SAYS that she even got into an argument with a doctor there when she demanded to be discharged because she wanted to go home so much. Alia and her less than two-month-old baby were admitted on 31 March and were discharged on 1 April.
The mother-of-three, however, said her grievances are not towards the doctors and nurses who have been kind and helpful, but rather towards those in power that don't care about the people
"It feels like us, the people, are not valued by those who are empowered to protect our rights," she goes on to write.
"Is this the kind of service that is given to mothers who are pregnant, giving birth, and breastfeeding the future generation?
"I'm not asking for first class service, I don't mind being quarantined in a government hospital, but the ministry should at least check that the facilities provided are in good condition and clean for us (mother and child) to stay in."
Then, addressing Khairy himself, she said, "I hope you go down there and see for yourself. Would you ask your wife, siblings, or family members to be quarantined in such a condition?"
Not only were the patients deprived of clean basic necessities, but it was also unsafe for mothers and their babies
Patients who had previously been warded there have reached out to Alia and shared their own awful experiences.
Alia shared with SAYS screenshots of a conversation with one mother, who was admitted with her baby on 8 March. Calling it 'a nightmare', the woman said the toilets were reportedly dirty and there was a terrible leak caused by a clogged pipe.
The flooded floors were not cleaned for at least a day, making the path from the patients' beds to the toilets a dangerous one. Several mothers reportedly have slipped and almost fell because of the neglect.
The cleaners only came to wipe the floors after the patients complained to a doctor.
The MOH has since said it will investigate the conditions of HKL's old maternity ward
Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali said the hospital director has been asked to take drastic action.
"We will investigate this case urgently and take fast action," he told Sinar Daily on 2 April.
Dr Noor Azmi said nobody should be deprived of the best facilities the Malaysian government and MOH could offer.
Last month, concerns were raised after footage of rats scurrying around a COVID-19 ward for women and children in a hospital in Seremban went viral: