A woman recently shared how her father died by COVID-19 within 48 hours of admission to Serdang Hospital in Selangor
Recounting the events that led to her father's death, 26-year-old Bowie Kong alleged on Facebook that the hospital was irresponsible in handling her 56-year-old father, Kong Wan Hong, as a patient.
"I really didn't want to write it out, but when I close my eyes, all I can think about is the tragic death of my father," she wrote on Monday, 26 July.
She said everything began with her father feeling feverish on 14 July. Thinking it was a normal fever, a doctor at a private clinic sent him home with only regular fever medication.
However, the next day, 15 July, Kong was still worried and went to do a COVID-19 PCR test, for which he tested positive. On the same day, Bowie wrote that her mother and herself went to get tested too. Her mother tested positive while Bowie herself was negative.
The whole family was quarantined at home and initially things were fine – Bowie wrote that her father's blood oxygen levels were normal, between 95% and 99%
However, the fever persisted, and on Tuesday, 20 July, his oxygen levels desaturated to 84%.
"I believe Dad was infected with the Delta virus, the infection was very strong and he deteriorated quickly within five days," Bowie wrote.
She immediately called 999 and an ambulance came to take Kong to Serdang Hospital.
"I thought my father was saved, who knew that was the beginning of a nightmare," she said.
After her father arrived at the hospital, Bowie said the doctors did an initial check on him but did not care for him afterwards.
"He wasn't given oxygen. Instead, he just sat in a wheelchair and waited for a long time. He took pictures for us to see. Some patients were not wearing masks and the environment was very harsh."
Bowie claimed some patients who arrived later were given a bed before her father, and when Kong asked for a bed, he was allegedly ignored by the staff.
"Dad also said it was cold over there and when he asked for a blanket, the nurse over there didn't care about him at all and told him there weren't enough blankets to go around."
Unable to stand even a night at the hospital, Bowie said her father called her in the wee hours of the morning on Wednesday, 21 July, saying that he wanted to go home
"He said he had difficulty breathing and was very cold. I called the hospital and cried and asked them to give my dad some oxygen and they agreed, but nothing was done. I called again and asked them to give my dad a blanket too, but that request was also ignored," she said.
By 6.30am, Bowie hailed a car to the hospital to give a blanket to her father herself. She said he used all his strength to walk out to get the things from her.
"I handed the blanket to him through the railings and I knew he was depending only on his willpower by then. I wanted to bring him home, but the people there said no, unless there was a private hospital willing to take him in, so I went home first."
From home, Bowie called Serdang Hospital to ask if she could speak to a doctor to discuss transferring her father to another hospital. However, over the phone, she was told that the doctors were too busy to entertain her call.
At that point, Kong told Bowie to stop trying because he had asked a doctor himself and the doctor told him that he was not allowed to change hospitals or go home.
In the afternoon, Bowie went to the hospital again and described the overcrowded situation at the hospital as "hell on Earth"
"Patients had to wait in temporary tents put up outside the hospital while countless more were constantly being sent in. I knew I didn't have a chance to talk to a doctor," she said.
Bringing her own oximeter, she tested her father's blood oxygen levels and was dismayed to find that his hands were so cold that she could not get any reading.
"After trying repeatedly, I finally got a result. His blood oxygen had fallen to 50% and his heart rate was only 39!" she recounted.
"At the time, I also saw that my father's skin was going purplish red, which meant he was extremely hypoxic, but he still hadn't received any treatment."
Kong told her that he went for an X-ray earlier, but the doctor did not inform him of the results.
At 8pm, Bowie said her father called her again to tell her he was having a hard time breathing. He had already repeatedly asked medical staff for oxygen but she said he was answered with, "Everyone is having a hard time, you're not the only one struggling."
"I asked him not to give up and to keep reminding the staff to give him an oxygen cylinder. Finally, he was fitted with oxygen around 9pm and made it through that night."
However, looking back, Bowie said it was not enough.
"Patients with COVID-19 often have pneumonia, their lungs are inflamed and filled with fluid. They should have administered steroids to immediately help reduce the inflammation, but not a single medication was prescribed to my father," she wrote.
On Thursday morning, 22 July, Kong called his daughter in the morning to let her know he overslept and missed breakfast
She immediately offered to deliver him food but they both knew it was not possible as he no longer had the strength to walk outside.
At night, around 10pm, her father called her one last time.
"He said he was going to die. We had prepared ourselves in our hearts for this news and told him over the phone everything we wanted him to know. At the end of the call, I couldn't hear anything he was saying clearly anymore."
On Friday morning, 23 July, Bowie said she tried calling him but could not get through to his phone. With no luck of getting through to the emergency department either, she asked a friend to go to the hospital to check on her father.
It was then that she found out her father passed away not long after their phone call, at 11.30pm on Thursday night, 22 July.
She was only notified of his death at 1pm on Friday.
In her Facebook post, Bowie accused Serdang Hospital of indifference and disrespect towards her father
"My dad died because he did not get treatment in time. Although he was in the hospital for three days, the medical staff turned a blind eye to him when he was in need," she said.
"He could not get a bed, nobody notified our family when he passed away, the emergency department is impossible to get through to, the staff have horrible attitudes, and when my father was heading there in the ambulance, he wasn't even checked or given oxygen!"
Although she was upset, Bowie told SAYS that she is not taking action against the hospital. Instead, she hopes that her father's story serves as a warning about the collapsed healthcare system and the morbidity of COVID-19.
"No, I'm [not going to] report Serdang Hospital. I posted my story on Facebook not to seek justice for my father. He has already died," she said.
"I hope that the government will focus on helping public hospitals that are overflowing with patients and lacking in resources. And I hope they can be fair to all patients."
She added on her Facebook post that public hospitals are too overwhelmed right now, so it was better for patients to go to private hospitals instead, and that everyone should be careful to avoid being infected by COVID-19 in the first place.
SAYS has reached out to Serdang Hospital for a comment on the issue.
Klang Valley hospitals are currently being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of patients caused by the COVID-19 pandemic: