Nine days of intensive care and a five-hour surgery cost less than RM150 for a Malaysian at Queen Elizabeth Hospital 1 in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

The healing process that follows, which include physiotherapy, medications and a longer stay, would probably be cheaper.

All these are free though for civil servants, or those with a government pensioner's card.

Nurses, doctors and specialists are available, providing care to patients, assistance and advice, and consultation to family members.

Go there long enough and patients or their families are treated like friends — with banter about the weather, handbags and Euro 2016.

Despite all this, the hospital continues to draw brickbats from people who fail to get front-row parking space, rude attendants they can't identify and broken chairs, among other things.

Politicians and non-governmental organisations ride on these issues for mileage, making cameo appearances before hurling accusations and demanding attention via social media or news organisations.

An organisation recently accused the government of failing the people of Sabah by not improving conditions at the hospital.

It listed insufficient haemodialysis machines, air conditioners and a lack of parking space, including for the disabled.

Like any other establishment, the hospital has its shortcomings, such as flaws in its operations, jittery housemen, faulty equipment, machines and a lack of seats.

Comparing it with private hospitals is not right, not because of the amount they charge, but more because of the big difference in the number of patients.

But to accuse it of failing to meet the needs of Sabah folk is a low blow to the hospital that attends to the needs of more than 1,000 outpatients on a daily basis and probably half the number in its wards.

The hospital bends many rules to accommodate its patients and their families, even to the point of seeking cooperation from police and City Hall, to be lenient against those who double park and drive up the pavements during peak hours.

A shuttle service is also provided to the public and hospital staff to park their vehicles about 2km away at the Tropical Rainforest Park adjacent to the State Archives.

Peter, a mechanic whose relative was recently admitted to the High Dependency Ward on the third floor of the hospital’s main building, said his twice daily visits had opened his eyes on how important the hospital was to the people of Sabah.

“It’s not until your life or the lives of your loved ones are placed in the hands of the hospital that you realise what they do is crucial,” he said, adding that he even appreciated the part where only one person was allowed to visit patients in intensive care.

Next door, where the intensive care unit was located, the excitement of a teenager waking up from a coma after a car crash a week earlier, was not only greeted by family members, who had kept vigil outside the sanitised ward, but also by nurses, doctors and security guards.

The rush among family members taking turns to look at the boy, who woke up for a mere five minutes, was good enough for them to extend their gratitude to the nurses and doctors, who had attended to him round the clock.

Roslan, a security guard, said since he was posted to the hospital two years ago, he had seen many events that made him cherish his health and life.

The most important factor was the personal touch given by the nurses and doctors in the most professional way.

They explain about medications, the risk of anesthesia, surgery options, the healing process and physiotherapy.

They delivered all this with tact and in layman’s terms.

The way they introduce themselves — as Dr Kong, Dr Nagaraj, Dr Calvin, Dr Suhana, nurse Amalina, nurse Celine and nurse Madeline — was reassuring as it showed they want to make sure that their patients or their families know they take full responsibility for what they do.

At an average of RM15 per day for a top-class medical service, it’s a good deal.

Roy Goh is NST’s Sabah bureau chief. He finds solace from the hills, the wild and drama movies. Inspiration comes from long drives on the road, off-road and the fairways

Source: New Straits Time Online