Easing the burden of poor patients

Kumar (in blue) and Lim (in white) listening to a briefing about artery blockage with Tabitha (left) and PAH medical welfare officer Eric Loh at Penang Adventist Hospital. — CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

LIM Soon Huat was having shortness of breath early this year but did not want to seek medical care as the discomfort was not constant.

There were times when the pain was so bad at night that he had to keep punching his chest to make it subside.

“I went to the government hospital but was given appointment dates for next year.

“I did go to a private hospital but they charged quite a bit for just a check-up and short admission.

“I have three school-going children and due to the Covid-19 pandemic, my wife’s hair salon had to close.

“I decided to wait it out then as we could not afford to spend more money on my health,” said the 53-year-old contractor from Changlun, Kedah.

Soon the symptoms became worse and Lim started to pant even after a short walk.

After being told that a heart procedure was needed to clear three major blockages, a neighbour told him about Penang Adventist Hospital’s (PAH) Patient Heart Fund.

His application was approved, and the surgery was promptly done at PAH in George Town.

“I had three major blockages, between 70% and 100% that required three stents.

“My surgery cost of RM41,000 was completely covered by the fund.

“Now I can sleep peacefully and my wife is not as worried as she used to be,” he said when met at PAH recently.

Another beneficiary M. Kumar, 48, suddenly felt pain and shortness of breath right after his mother passed away in June this year.

The lorry driver was always in the pink of health before this.

“I am relatively fit and do not have a family history of heart issues.

“I was worried and after a visit to the government hospital here, I was told my appointment for an angiogram would be next year,” he said.

Suspecting something amiss, Kumar’s employer told him to visit PAH. The rest, as they say, is history.

“I had one artery that was 100% blocked which they managed to fix with a stent.

“The fund from PAH covered 75% of my medical expenses which came up to RM30,000.

“I have two young children at home so the aid really helped a lot.”

Lifeguard Azizul Aziz, 36, had a near death experience when he collapsed after suffering a heart attack.

“I was about to leave work after a lifeguard training and I felt my chest was tight and I collapsed.

“My fingertips were turning blue and I was taken to the hospital.

“I was diagnosed with acute myocardial infarction and underwent an angioplasty that cost RM34,000.

“After deducting from my company’s insurance and what my family could afford, the hospital’s Patient Heart Fund helped to settle the balance of RM18,000,” he said.

To mark World Heart Day on Sept 29, Lim, Kumar and Azizul shared their stories and how the fund eased their financial burden.

Lim and Kumar had acute anterior myocardial infarction, which is a life-threatening condition that occurs when blood flow to the heart muscle is abruptly cut off, causing tissue damage. This is usually the result of a blockage in one or more of the coronary arteries.

For Azizul, he had acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) and required angioplasty to clear the arteries.

PAH medical welfare officer Tabitha Andrews, 31, said those interested in applying for PAH’s medical welfare services can visit the hospital to make further enquiries on the application process.

“The patient will be interviewed and asked about their family background and financial status.

“We also need photographic evidence of their homes.

“We will then present it to our charity committee, which will then deliberate on the amount that can be offered,” she said.

Visit www.pah.com.my for further details.

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