Bills pile up for 88-year old patient

Yeo Poh Hong

The SDP reported on this website about the plight of 88-year old Mr Dawart Abdul who was suffering from prostate problems and, as a result, was incontinent. The urine odour in his house caused much unhappiness among his neighbours.

Members of the SDP’s Community Services Unit visited the octogenarian and brought him to consult our healthcare panel member Dr Leong Yan Hoi.$CUT$

We paid Mr Dawart a follow-up visit last week and found out that the Care Corner Family Service Centre at Woodlands and Community Development Council had provided Mr Dawart a wheelchair, some taxi vouchers for transport, and a one-time supply of food rations.

But that’s just one side of the story. What the Government gives with one hand, it takes back with the other.

Mr Khamis, a friend who is living with Mr Dawart and taking care of him, showed us a registered letter dated 21 June 2012 from a lawyer’s firm representing Sembawang-Nee Soon Town Council. It demanded payment for outstanding Town & Conservancy Fees amounting to $177.50 (below, left).

For good measure, the letter stated that a court order would be issued if the payment is not made within 14 days from the date of the demand.

The Town Council was not the only one that was demanding payment from an elderly man who did not have enough money to even see a doctor for his illness. SP Services sent a letter to Mr Dawart’s home to remind him of the outstanding electricity and water bills that he has not paid. The bill amount was $330.96 (below, right).

Mr Dawart’s problems didn’t end there. After we had taken him to Dr Leong’s clinic for his consultation, Mr Khamis brought Mr Dawart to the polyclinic for a follow-up check up.

Even though no medication was provided Mr Dawart was told, according to Mr Khamis, that $50 would be deducted from his Medisave Account, and another $5 in cash payment for “paperwork”. (We did not see the polyclinic bill.)

The CDC advised Mr Khamis to seek help from MP Hawazi Daipi during the Meet-The-People Session.

Herein lies the problem. The system continues to pile financial pressure on an elderly man even as he is ailing and requires medical care. It also expects him to seek out sources of financial help on his own and, worse, to see his MP just to get help to get by.

What if Mr Dawart’s condition was not one of incontinence which attracted the unhappy attention of his neighbours who, presumably, contacted the press? Would Mr Dawart have to suffer his medical problem in silence and without help?

Why can’t we have a system that takes care of our poor, our sick and our elderly without having them go to the MP for charity? Why are Singaporeans made to beg when it should be their right to receive healthcare?

One has to wonder how many Singaporeans are in Mr Dawart’s position and not receiving medical help. It really makes me angry when I think of this and the fact that the GIC and Temasek Holdings are sitting on hundreds of billions of dollars and refusing to use even a tiny portion of it to help Singaporeans like Mr Dawart.

On a happier note, Mr Dawart expressed his happiness with Dr Leong’s medication because it has reduced the frequency of his urinal incontinence, and he is able to sleep more peacefully.

I took the opportunity to explain to him the SDP’s alternative healthcare system and that under such a system, he wouldn’t be facing the problems he is facing right now. At the very least, the healthcare system, not his MP, would be taking care of him.

Ms Yeo Poh Hong is the Deputy Head of SDP’s Community Services Unit.

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