Yesterday, 2 August, Subang Jaya assemblyperson (ADUN) Michelle Ng Mei Sze shared her team's desperate attempt to find an available hospital for a severe COVID-19 patient
Tweeting after a sleepless night of trying to find help, Ng said she received a call at 10.30pm on Sunday, 1 August, from a low-cost flat resident requesting for aid on behalf of a neighbour.
Ng was told the patient was having trouble breathing, vomiting, and felt like "dying", and that they have been waiting for an ambulance from 6pm.
The resident pleaded for help as the emergency line told them to find a way to transport the patient themselves because they were overwhelmed with similar cases and have seven people still on the waiting list.
The Subang Jaya ADUN was then informed of the patients' other struggles.
"She (the patient) is illiterate and does not know how to type, let alone use MySejahtera to update her COVID-19 status or Selangkah to register herself to be admitted to the COVID-19 Assessment Centre (CAC) in Stadium Melawati," Ng quoted the resident.
Ng immediately contacted Subang Jaya Bomba Emergency Assistance Community (SJ Beacon) but was told they were not operational at the moment
Ng asked if they could consider sending the patient — if she was still alive and if they were operating — to the hospital the next day.
"We will try, but they're likely to send us on a merry go round. There are just not enough beds," they replied her.
She then contacted St John Ambulance of Malaysia, who could only offer her an apology because all six of its ambulances were also on the road, each with a three-patient waiting list.
"I was angry. I was angry that they had to say sorry, that men and women who gave their lives to do no harm had to choose who should live and die," Ng said.
Meanwhile, her aide, Henry, called 999 and they forwarded the request to the nearest hospital, explaining that the hospital will decide whether or not to accept the request
Ng said the hospital took his number and will contact him back but did not receive any feedback at the time she tweeted, which was 16 hours since the call.
Together they sieved through various options for an ambulance, including some that were charging up to RM1,209.
"He (Henry) went on to feedback from the private list 'Ambulance A is uncontactable. Ambulance B is charging RM850. Ambulance C and D are uncontactable. Ambulance E is charging RM1,209,'" she shared.
They finally settled on an ambulance that was going to charge a base rate of RM700 and an extra RM200 for every hospital that they would have to go to since there was no guarantee that the hospital they go to would have an available bed.
"Okay, let's do the homework for them then, I said. Let's check which hospital has beds," Ng decided, in attempt to mitigate the cost
They began calling hospitals to check for available beds.
They received no answer from Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital (HTAR) in Klang and Shah Alam Hospital informed they could no longer take COVID-19 cases but suggested that the hospitals in Ampang, Selayang, and Serdang might have beds.
The DAP lawmaker said Selayang Hospital did not answer and Serdang Hospital said they were full but suggested that Putrajaya might have a bed.
"When I rang Putrajaya (Hospital) — the operator said that they would only take cases from 999. I begged her — we have waited [for] four hours, and 999 asked us to look for our own hospital," she tweeted.
The operator remarked that it was such a weird thing for 999 to say and finally informed Ng that they can try bringing the patient to Putrajaya Hospital.
With that glimmer of hope, they called the ambulance service to pick up the patient and go to Putrajaya Hospital. "Worst case scenario — if there are no beds at all, at least her vitals are checked and she gets some oxygen," Ng said.
Henry also informed her the ambulance service said their earlier case racked up a bill of RM1,700 as they went from one hospital to another.
"There were just no beds," Henry told Ng.
He even volunteered to follow the ambulance so that he could decide when the bill was "too much" to continue searching for a hospital.
After discussing, they finally settled on Kuala Lumpur Hospital (HKL) and when the ambulance arrived to pick up the patient at 2am, her blood pressure was soaring.
"They had to give her oxygen as she had difficulty breathing after walking down the stairs," Ng shared.
She said the patient arrived in HKL at 2.52am but had to wait for the doctor under a tent outside the entrance.
She was finally placed in a decompression room at 7.43am where there were seven other people before her, waiting for a bed.
"At least she's inside," Henry told Ng.
The Subang Jaya ADUN advised Subangites to take the COVID-19 pandemic seriously
"We are far from the clear. Our system has collapsed. This virus is ravaging families," Ng said.
"Just this week alone community leaders have informed me of four COVID-19 related deaths. I am pleading with you — please take this seriously."Ng ended her Twitter thread by urging everyone to get vaccinated, have conversations with the people who are worried about the vaccine, not go out unless absolutely necessary, double mask, and ventilate the premises.
"We must get through this, and we cannot do it unless we are all in this together," she said.
A Malaysian singer recently made a public plea for donations after her father was forced to seek treatment at a private hospital as the Kuala Lumpur Hospital (HKL) was swamped with COVID-19 patients: