My adventure into alien territory

It took me a long time to decide on this adventure, to venture into alien territory on a Saturday morning. I have never done this for decades and whatever memories of this place were from the time when I was a kid. Finally, with much reluctance, I bravely trotted into this corner of Singapore that I have never treaded for a long time.

I arrived just about a quarter to 10 in the morning. I was a bit lost with the geography of the land and had to ask to get to where I want to be. I was shown this queue machine and got my Q number.  There were quite a lot of people and also ample staff to guide the new visitors like me. I waited for 10 minutes before my Q number flashed on the big screens. I registered and the customer relations officer was all helpful and friendly. What a pleasant start on this adventure. She even explained to me the procedure to save waiting time. I could make an appointment from home by logging into the system. She apologetically said I would have to for an hour before my appointment for just walking in.
To me, recollecting on my childhood experience, an hour of waiting was fair game. I went for coffee and still had a lot to time to take a look at the waiting area and the Q numbers called. Wow, another 100 numbers ahead of me.  Now how to kill one hour of time doing nothing? Ok, visited the restroom. My, another big surprise, spanking clean, dry and odourless, as good as home. Because it was so comfortable, because I had one hour to spare, I took my time. I thought I had more than half an hour and strolled out casually only to find I just missed my turn. Spoke to the customer relations officer and she took up my case and yes, I was called immediately to see the doctor.

I have this blurring or clouding of vision on one eye for a couple of years.  After the preliminaries he asked which hospital would I want to get the cataract done. I told him to get me the cheapest. He broke into laughter. Ok, the most convenient is Ng Teng Fong Hospital. What about the fees? Not to worry, they charged the same rate. It was a quick appointment. And I also asked for some medicine for my flu and cough. All over in less than 5 minutes.

I went to the Pharmacy and collected my medicine in less than 5 minutes and happily wanted to leave the place. Then I remembered her saying to go to the counter behind. Oops, I got to pay for my medicine. I could have just gone home without knowing that I got to pay for it.

At the payment counter the cashier said three eightty five. I said, uh, so expensive. She was apologetic and explained that I had two kinds of medicine. Ok, gave her $10 and got my change of $6.15. There was GST but absorbed by the govt, ie not GST.

My next stop was for an appointment for my ops. The cashier said go to counter 10 and press 3 on the machine. A bit puzzled but just did as told. Found the counter, found the machine, and yes there was a button for 3. Press it and was wondering what’s next. Oh, a Q number.  That was wbat the button 3 was for. Took the Q number and wait. This time waited for 15 minutes, the longest wait in the whole process.

When my turn came, the customer relations officer entered my particulars and said Ng Teng Fong Hospital would contact me for the appointment. And that’s it, all over in less than an hour, without making an appointment in advance.

This was my adventure to a Polyclinic on a Saturday morning. It was simply not the same as decades ago when waiting time was long and waiting unnecessarily was the norm.  Everything was so organized and befitting for a first world experience. I could not find any fault with the organization, the set up and the staff. It was clockwork precision, too efficient that I almost missed my appointment when I thought I would have an hour to wait but actually half an hour.

Every staff was professional and courteous, and, you don’t believe this… I thought I was entering alien land, at least that was what I was told. If I am not mistaken, all the staff, including the doctor, was Singaporean. At least their names and the way they sounded when they spoke. No aliens!
Whoever reinvented the Polyclinics, the organization, the processes and procedures, and the staff operating them, one could not ask for better. This is the standard to be copied by all the ministries.  My adventure was in a way a very pleasant experience and a very comfortable one, for $3.85, inclusive of consultation and medicine.

This is my Singapore, the Singapore Singaporeans are proud to call home, the efficiency and quality of service that made Singapore a hallmark and model for the rest of the world.

Please keep Singapore this way. I must say I was happily surprised that the Polyclinics are still Singaporean territory and in tip top condition.


virgo49 said...

Mr RB, make sure you pay your fees for every medical appointment

If not, haha, they so efficient.
Within two days you received a letter of demand.

When you go for next appointment in one week's time for check up after last week lab tests, the customer service officer will remind you point blank that you has outstanding arrears over the counter even a partly sum of eight dollars.

They are more efficient than Tah Koks and his henchmen.

Anonymous said...

RB, pray they don't flood the place with aliens or it would turn into another third world slum in no time.

Anonymous said...

Must also consider the quality of the medical treatment.

Ng Teng Fong Hospital is one of the newest, if not the newest.

So must weigh between cheapest and quality of treatment.

But it's OK if it is like some foreign talents, they are not only the cheapest but also the bestest (available).

Anonymous said...

Yes I have been to amk poly clinic, 95% still sinkies but once u go to hospital or rehab, mainly ft

Anonymous said...

RB is correct to point out polyclinic of certain area is good as he pointed out. When at the peak of foreigners influx around 2010 to 2013, polyclinic was not at good shape to cope with the influx of foreigners.
Once i brought my kid to a polyclinic nearby due to fever. That was walkin. We waited for 3 hours or 4, from 12noon till 5:30pm. It was about to close. I went to ask the staff in charge of distributing the case files. She could not find my kids record. That was the terrible time i had experience in polyclinic. But to save money, no choice. Then i learned to find the least crowded poly clinic NOT near my home. I knew a few and got used to one not the nearest but still ok as regular.

Not until u find out the real truth of Singapore medical service. It was the polyclinic doctor s referral to sgh on emergency basis, the same day. I went to sgh to wait from around 3pm. The doctor first one could see me only at 9:30pm. He did the bill said: $115 standard payment, ran through the checks and said need to make appointment for another branch which he could not cover. When saw the another branch doctor 6 months later, the doctor concluded there was no need for him to get into further expensive scope. Heng ah. But it was time which i got was assurance myself and scared by the doctors until the last one who spent time with me talking and concluded nothing needed.

Medical doctors are heavily taxed on time due to the population increase policy. Bear in mind, patients are not receiving good service as time slice to see a patient is limited.

RB s case was nothing so the result was good and he likes the "efficiency".
For me: i like effectiveness. I would have been better not to go round and landed in SGH Emergency. That is the Nightmare Place to go. Unless there is real reason to go there, sitting there to wait from noon to late night is not a wise service to wait for. Agree?

Never vote for population explosion policy to boost the already millionaires' salaries further. They are not doing the jobs to create jobs for capable singaporeans to earn income. They create bubbles, a term not so clear to you. In plain language means, these politicians create illusion on demand. The surges on demand at renting rooms, buying foods at super mar, rushing for mrt buses, do increase the prices on rental, foods, bus fares, mrt fares, as if there is growth in economy called GDP.
GDP growth is not real. There is no real cash flows growth. Jobs re replaced with foreigners taking away cash, while they demand on rental. So people speculate to buy property when they can borrow. GDP grows.
But these influx foreigners need to have medical. Hospitals are the most taxed and overrun places, and some poly clinics, citizens should never get near.

Anonymous said...

uncle rb....

I m happy that you are happy!

This is our first world polyclinic service!

This is the place we called HOME, Singapore!

Very Very Good!

Anonymous said...

There are many foreign doctors from Myanmar, India, Philippines or even Mexico in polyclinics and public hospitals. Of course also from Malaysia, especially the specialists.

This is because, unlike in engineering, NUS, and the only U producing doctors for many years, restricts the intake of medical students in the past.

And with so many foreign doctors, don't know if there may be communication issues, not to say quality of treatment. Which U do these doctors graduate from? Are we taking them because they are the best available so as to get the numbers needed?

I don't know whether there are patients who may have to pay for all this with their life.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:33am
Myannmar doctor??
There was a case read in media. A Myannmar doctor serving in Singapore as doctor in public service was found NOT in the myannmar doctor register.

That is Singapore s quality medical service.

patriot said...

Please let me shares some of my experiences.
l used to send my late Mother, who passed on about 4 years ago, to Tampines Polyclinic and Changi Hospital after her fall when she was in her late 80s.
Tampines Polyclinic was not fenced up in its earlier years, so access to it was lot more convenient, especially those on wheelchairs and walking aids. lt was later fenced up.
Around 2 or 3 years back, it underwent renovation.

There was an occassion when my mother forgot to bring along her IC for an appointment for review months before her demise at 96 year old.
At the Queue Reception Counter, the Lady Staff demanded for my Mother's IC though we brought her
appointment card.
My Mother had by then visited the Polyclinic for numerous times regularly for reviews. On being informed that we had forgotten to bring my Mum's IC, said Staff became very stern and inform us in very serious tone that she had to treat my Mum as a non-citizen and will be billed as alien.
Imagine my frustration and disbelief when the Data in her computer terminal would have reflected that my Mum a regular patient all those past years. Why
should the Said Staff be oblivious to the Informations regarding the Patient? l tried reasoning with her, definitely a local, but she refused to budge.
Left with no choice, l reasoned with her loudly which attracted much attention from others around. ln the ended she reminded us to bring IC for further appointment.
l still cannot fathom the Need for IC for regular patients. l was last reminded to bring IC for an appointment just months ago.

Another incident that happened to
me was my request to have my Mum's medication reduced to 2 months instead of 3 as it cost me about $400 each time. Somehow, subsequent visits were cheaper for the 3 months medication, but the Nrands of some medicines were different. l did not mind so long as they were effective.
ln my case, it was a senior citizen taking care of a very senior citizen leaving little or no time to work or play. Little income with essentials to pay for.

Soon after the Tampines Polyclinic was last renovated, myself becomes a regular there due to failing health. lo and behold, it is much neater, well organized and much efficient in the Flow for all the weight/temperature, blood pressure, stool/urine and blood tests etc. The Transformation
is indeed very impressive as related bu Rb in this Thread.
Someone has done good job; kudos to whoever that is.

like to say that Tampines Polyclinic has only minority foreigner staff mainly at the Blood/Stool/Urine Test Department. The Other Departments are staff mainly by locals.

Sorry for the Long Post.

Glad to see the Great Improvements that Rb and me got
to experience at the Polyclinics.

As for hospitals, my last visit to SGH less then a year ago and at Changi Hospital about a month back, the wait is too long for comfort and there is shortage of seats while waiting.
Can it be improved like the Polyclinics?
Wish it can be done and nursing staff in hospitals are mostly foreigners. I find them diligent and responsible, if they are conversant with local languages, it will vastly improve the Quality of Service.


Anonymous said...

I would recommend voters to eye at effectiveness as priority. Short waiting time or efficiency is a must have. But can be compromised, not for effectiveness.

Doctors service can waste money and time if they lack effectiveness. Wrong or inaccurate diagnosis will lead to useless treatment. Patients suffer and pay the bills.

Services of medical is similar to this case which is easy to compare to understand what i really meant.

I read about a pinpong player being sacked. Yesterday i click on a main media "twoday", the report said this player made fake claims of 200 eggs and 10 tin of milk powder. Milk powder worth money here. I thought could be for some babies. 200 eggs kept me thinking from time to time. Eat all 200 eggs within the 9 days claim can be fatal due to protein poisoning. I read about such thing, even drinking excessive plain water can be fatal. How could it be? to claim 200 eggs purchase within 9 days.

But that was reported black and white in Twoday paper on line.
In the evening, the pinpong association was more impartial. It said on statement the report about the pinpong player s claims was false. The player did not do those false claims.

Can voters see the magic of "service" by professionals? A service can be false without detection.
I repeat a service can be false without detection. If this society engage professional and these professional occasionally write false report as service, the society can be turned upside down.
If a doctor occasionally gives false diagnosis, there is little problem exist.
The patient suffer or mati. That s all.

Be very alert on the influx of unqualified professional rendering services. The elitist scholars pretend they are in charge. In reality, they are lazy and sleepy. I do not see the real reason to increase population to suit the demand of property developers. I only see this as an excuse for the lazy politicians: to improve income by creating jobs for local Nus and Ntu. It is a hard job to bring in proper investors to start offices and factories. It is easy to sell lands and ensure the properties are rented.

At the end, the average and poor are getting hard hit by fake professionals serving them in medical, newspapers, and all fields. The millionaires dont need the fake professionals. They make sure doctors treating them are not from myannmar or mumbai.
Voting the correct policy to prevent your elders being hit and the next 10 to 20 years will be your turn to be hit harder, as the number ballooned to 10 millions population.
Agree? The 1st step starts in 2020 when you vote.

Anonymous said...

very good to hear that you are happy with the polyclinic.......

sincerely hope that you will still be happy with the total care/services
by ng teng fong hospital for your procedures.......

hope you can let us know about your subsequence happy experiences here.......

thank you.......


Anonymous said...

Veritas, u may be interested in this article on the fall of German bank