Tuesday, May 07, 2013

A visit to a neighbourhood clinic

Today, feeling the oncoming of an attack of flu, I decided to drop by a neighbourhood clinic, rather than travelling far away to my "company clinic". It was great in that I could call to "chope" (reserve) a number and be given a time to arrive. My domestic help made the arrangement for me. She knows the neighbourhood better than I do. Efficiency in practice. I could remember the days when I had to wait hours for a doctor, and in a "company clinic" too.

The first impression was that the clinic is small, not so "professional looking" as one would see in the high end ones. Apart from the visuals, my next impression was the friendly "customer service". "

"Ah you are living nearby," was the comment from this middle aged lady as she registered my name. It is the first time for me to visit this clinic although all in my family, including the domesitc help, have their medical records here. My professional brain was working, despite the flu bugs swimming in the head and elsewhere, observing and wondering if I could help improve in the IT part of it.

Today, the main doctor, and apparently the owner of the clinic, was off and I learnt that he's off on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Many of his "loyal" patients asked for him. Many would rather come on another day, when they found out over the phone. For me, it does not make any difference as my case is rather straightforward, hopefully, and I need some medication to suppress the reactions to the bugs.

Sitting and waiting for my turn, I observed that most of the patients were repeats and the counter staff knew them well. They would be bantering in dialects. Reminds me of the old days. Two or three of them came in to register and then went off to do marketing in the nearby Sheng Siong supermarket. Sure, some of them missed their numbers. I heard that they would have to wait for another 5 number calls before they could be called when they return. But there was no anger and no admonishment from the staff. Compared to the very old days when we were worried being scolded by the missy (nurse).

An old Malay man came in to see the doctor. He had weak legs and the ladies quickly got him to sit down before taking out his appointment card. That kind of kampong spirit that I see, very spontaneously.

Looking around, I noted that except for one, the rest of the patients had greying hair. Ah, but of course, I am also in this category of senior citizens. Two older ladies came with their domestic help to assist them.

A pleasant and smiling lady doctor attended to me. She explained to me the medicine that she was about to give me. She noted that my blood pressure was above the normal. I explained that I had a history and was taking medication but I missed them every now and then. She empathised with me when I said that I am taking my medicine every other day instead of cutting the pills into two, saying she would have the same problems. But she encouraged me to remember.

I could remember some decades back when I also went to a neighbourhood clinic that my impression was whether it was a senior citizen centre. It turned out, as I was to learn later, that they were amahs who had since retired and were being taken care of by the doctor, who probably was taken care by them when he was young. I guessed. This friendly old doctor was in no hurry to send me off. And so, a consultation could lead to more than just the immediate problems. I could vividly remember his encouraging me to have children (I did not have any then) to make a family more complete.

My name was called to collect my medicine. The lady who was giving me the medicine advised me not to taken chilli during this period and not to take too much salt considering my blood pressure. All in a friendly manner.

Ah, I think I can adopt this clinic for my retirement years. If the medical bills do not shoot up, that is. Or it might be trips to the local Chinese medicinal shops for self treatment. (^^)