Mum took leave to pick me up at the airport, not knowing her sister's (my aunt's) appointment with the Penang General Hospital psychiatric department is two days later. Just for the reference my aunt has rather serious mental disabilities after a fever when she was on her eve of taking her SPM - two factors: my grandpa's unexpected sudden passing and the pressure of the exams.
So after much negotiation the family agreed to send me on her behalf to chauffeur my grandma and my aunt to the GH. Having relatively nothing in Hokkien, I'm freaked out because, one, the GH is no happy place to be especially when you're in a hurry, and two, taking care of a mentally challenged person is no easy task either.
I was shaken awake by Mum at 6.45am. This is the pain and shame of a family of 4 having only 2 cars - I'll have to drive Mum to school first before go picking up grandma. After that, I have to send the car to my Mum so that she can drive me back to my Dad's office and I can follow him back home. Penangnites are sinful people for not fully utilizing the public transport system. But hey, after 20 tormenting years of rattling buses and crazy waiting times, Penangnites are not so easily convinced anymore.
We arrived at the GH at 7.55. Finding a parking space was not difficult - just slip into any empty spaces available, don't mind about the yellow boxes. I got my aunt, who was unwilling to come (typical behavior of mentally challenged individuals) registered, and my grandma and I sat waiting. You don't need reminding being in the psychiatric department - there were people of every race, some normal, some not. It's sad that even though most of us know those mentally challenged had their disease not by their own accord, but we still dislike being with them. Most will automatically relate a mentally challenged patient with aggressive, hard-to-deal-with, and even dangerous to the entire family. In most cases they are as harmless as 5-year olds.
Penang GH impresses me. By 8.30 we were called in. The clinic, typically GH, was small and jam-packed with 3 doctors. But the Indian doctor we had was very accommodating. I explained my aunt was unwilling to come, and she reassured me it's ok since this is typical behavior. She reinstated that she MUST take her drugs in order not to become aggressive (yes, my aunt is aggressive at times). All in all it was a good session not unlike any other consultation in a private hospital.
Next, the pharmacy, where I had nightmares since I waited for my eye-drops 10 years ago. The wait stretched to the entire afternoon and I was rotting in one of their plastic chairs.
We got a number with a queue of 14. I was mildly surprised it wasn't 50 or even 100. Nevertheless, I planned to go to the washrooms for a moment since 14 is rather long by my standards.
I had to drop my plans after seeing how fast the number-calling was. They call numbers by twos and threes, and have several people explaining the drugs to patients at the same time so to speed up the process. I'm impressed.
By 9am we were out in the car park with me explaining to grandma "(Hokkien) these drugs, important. Must give her eat everyday. If not, dangerous."
I must say I'm very happy with GH services from my experience yesterday. The doctors may be very young and lacking in experience, but the facilities are not less than any private or overseas hospital now. A very good improvement!
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