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Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Radicare: We'll act on complaints

PETALING JAYA: Medical support services firm Radicare, who came under the spotlight over the rubbish fiasco in several hospitals in Selangor as well as the closure of 12 operation theatres in Hospital Sungai Buloh, assured customers of action.

“If there’s a problem, let us know and we’ll take action. If need be, we’ll change subcontractors,” said Radicare chief operating officer Halwah Abdul Manaf.

She added that doctors and medical staff were welcome to approach Radicare if problems cropped up at their hospitals.

“The hospital staff have a 1800 number they can call at any time,” she said at a press conference at Sungai Buloh Hospital yesterday.

When informed of the complaints The Star had received from doctors in several government hospitals across Selangor, Halwah said: “We tackle the day to day problems and sometimes that takes time.

“Sometimes Radicare staff are already handling a problem at the source but because doctors don’t see them doing it, they assume nothing is being done.”

Separately, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S Subramaniam clarified that the probe announced earlier this week was not just about Radicare, but the operating theatre incident at Hospital Sungai Buloh.

He told reporters during a press conference at Sungai Buloh Hospital yesterday that the 12 OTs that had been shut down would be up and running in about ten days’ time.

During the downtime, 127 emergency surgeries and 93 elective and semi-elective surgeries were carried out.

“That is similar to when everything is functioning as normal,” he said, thanking the hospital staff for their dedication and hard work during the period.

“The whole incident will be probed. We have a monthly audit of Radicare,” he said.

The Segamat MP also said that while the rubbish incident last week “might be Radicare’s mistake” for not checking the background of the new subcontractor who had left rubbish strewn about hospitals, the Health Ministry would still check the damage caused to see if any action had to be taken.

“There is a monetary deduction clause in Radicare’s contract,” he said.

A number of  public sector doctors have made allegations of poor maintenance and negligent service by Radicare.

Dr Jameela Sathar, a hematologist from Ampang Hospital, reported a leak in the ceiling of the doctors' offices last February that was left unaddressed despite repeated complaints.

"The leak wet the carpets so we asked Radicare to fix it. Nothing was done until one day, it rained heavily and some of the offices were flooded," said Jameela.

She claimed that posters and materials worth more than  RM8,000 for a Health Ministry-approved workshop were destroyed, as well as consultants' personal effects and equipment.

Another doctor contacted by The Star claimed that the air-conditioning at Ampang Hospital was always turned up too high on her floor.

"Many staff members get sick because it is too cold. When we spoke to the engineer, he said it can't be turned down because the air-conditioning is centralised."

The doctor also claimed that equipment was frequently damaged because of the cold air, such as CT scanners and MRIs.

"When the machines warm up, condensation forms due to the cold air. This leads to water damage."

A third doctor claimed that the ceiling frequently leaked dirty, foul-smelling water.

"The eye clinic had to be moved last year due to the foul water dripping into the patient's waiting room," he alleged.

"It's been happening on and off over 2013," he said, adding that broken door handles and chipped tiles were often left unfixed.

"It's a hospital. These little things that can endanger people matter. Wheelchair users would have a tough time with the floor," he said.

He also claimed that air-conditioning units were frequently dripping water, and staff had slipped on puddles.

"It's a hazard. It may seem a small thing but safety is so important in a hospital. It takes Radicare months to change light bulbs. We had to wait for a year for it to fix the air-conditioning," he claimed.

Another source from Hospital Kuala Lumpur said that Radicare was "no different" on his side of things.

"A staff toilet was out of order and was left unrepaired for a month despite repeated calls to Radicare."

Another doctor from a large hospital in Klang echoed this, saying that the hospital had previously been forced to discard equipment as Radicare had not bothered to fix it in a timely fashion.

"If they do bother to fix equipment, they take it away for a long time and don't bother replacing it. We have to make do with this or that, but this should not happen. The people deserve better," he said.

Tags / Keywords: Health , radicare , hospital sungai buloh


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