By Pornpan Phetchsaen
One elderly woman seeking free treatment under the universal healthcare scheme has twice been told at Khon Kaen Hospital she should be seeking help elsewhere, her son said this week.
He took his distressed mother to the hospital early Wednesday morning, only to be berated by a staff member in the X-ray department whom he described as “overwhelmed and sleep-deprived”.
The unnamed staff member claimed the hospital was so overwhelmed by people seeking free treatment that the staff was going without sleep.
He was told he should have taken his mother to a hospital closer to their home that was “as quiet as a graveyard”.
The woman was found to be suffering from an inflamed abdominal muscle, treated and released after a few hours.
But the son said they’d gone through this on September 11 too, after a doctor at a clinic in Maha Sarakham determined that his mum’s kidney was swollen and she needed to go to Khon Kaen Hospital where she was registered.
A hospital staff member who was neither a nurse nor a doctor told his mother she should next time go to a hospital nearer her home and, if she could afford it, to a private hospital.
Wednesday’s visit was necessary because she was in severe pain, though the doctor had made a follow-up appointment for her on November 7.
Dr Thiravat Hemachudha of the Emerging Infectious Disease Health Science Centre at Chulalongkorn Hospital in Bangkok posted photos on Facebook of a crowded ward at an unidentified hospital in the Northeast.
He cited one ward that was handling 70 to 80 patients when it was only designed for 28.
There are two healthcare teams per ward – a staff doctor, two R1 and R3 resident doctor-students, an intern, an ex-tern medical student and one or two senior medical students – and they divide the 70 to 80 cases between them, he said.
In one afternoon on his watch, 42 new patients were admitted to a single ward, he said.
“We are reaching the near-sunken point. Despite our best effort to keep rowing, the ship will soon sink,” he wrote. “Instead of criticising the treatment, people should accept the truth of this current ‘near-collapsed’ condition.”