Wednesday, a nurse from Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH)
wrote in to the Forum page of The Straits Times to
complain that her gynaecologist at Mount Elizabeth
Hospital did not want to see her when she arrived to
keep an appointment with him.
nurse said that she was very upset and "felt
discriminated against because I worked with TTSH."
Apparently, her gynae had told her it was because of
Sars that he wanted to protect his other patients.
She went on to say that when some of her relatives
avoided her, she understood that their fear arose
either out of ignorance or inaccurate information.
she said she was appalled and shocked by "the
fact that I was denied medical care by a highly
trained specialist who fully understands the
implications of Sars." She then quoted the
Prime Minister as having said that "life could
be lived as normally as possible" and added
"perhaps that advice is meant for those who are
not TTSH staff."
disagree with this nurse's view that, in that
instance, her gynaecologist had discriminated
against her just because she worked at TTSH. On the
contrary, I think the gynae did the right thing. I
venture to add that because the specialist fully
understood the implications of Sars, he was right to
have refused to see her then. We are all adults and
can take care of ourselves. However, we need to
realise that there are yet-to-be-born children in
the wombs of those would-be mothers frequenting the
centre the nurse had visited.
would have thought that the nurse who I am sure is
trained to think of probable scenarios should have
spared a thought for the other pregnant women
visiting the centre and instead asked her gynae for
advice before she stepped into the centre in the
first place. Then, the whole ugly episode would not
have taken place at all. The gynae, I am sure, would
have made special arrangements to see her.
reader of The Straits Times wrote in to the Forum
page last Saturday to say he was "appalled at
the behaviour of the gynaecologist in
question." This reader continued, "The
Health Minister has said that Tan Tock Seng Hospital
is safe. Isn't it ironic that health-care
professionals should be alarmed when a staff member
from TTSH visits a clinic?"
the reader realise that it wasn't just another
clinic, but a specialist centre for pregnant women?
There are two lives at risk here. Of course, we can
always say the mother, being an adult, should be
able to take care of herself, but what of the unborn
foetus who is at a much higher risk?
management of Parkway Group Healthcare, which
has responsibility for Mt Elizabeth Hospital,
rightly replied last Saturday that "the
decision as to whether to see a patient is left to
has been said about discriminations against TTSH
staff and some of what is said are true. But, before
we start quoting the PM's words, let us put things
in the right perspective first.
join others in support of the unsung heroes and
heroines of the medical profession, particularly
those at TTSH, battling Sars. But, alarm bells must
continue to sound at specialist clinics for pregnant
women when health-care workers and others known to
be at a higher risk for Sars present themselves
there. This is to alert doctors who may wish to take