HelpSomebody reaches out to patients’ families
By Patricia Hului
H[/dropca]ospitals are one of the last places anybody would want to spend the night.
For the sake of sick family members, however, some would go as far as sleep on the cold hard floor of the hospital corridors.
“This is my second ‘shift’ at the hospital,” joked Ronnie Badang, 55, from Tebedu.
The father of three tried to hide his sorrow but the worry on his face said it all.
His first ‘shift’ started on June 30 last year when his second son started to get sick.
“After running a few check-ups, they found out there was bleeding in his brain.”
Ronnie remembered the first night he spent in the hospital hallway. “My wife and I had to sleep on cardboard boxes.”
The first shift lasted 30 long days for Ronnie while his son recovered from brain surgery.
“When I need to shower, a small pail is good enough for me.”
Ronnie lost one of his two sons to liver disease a few years back and for his other son to fall sick has become a sad part of his life that he has come to accept.
“These are some of the ordeals my family has had to face. When there is no where to turn to, I just turn to God,” he shared.
When met with The Borneo Post SEEDS on June 16, Ronnie’s son was back in Sarawak General Hospital’s neurosurgery ward, a year after his surgery, for observation.
This time he hoped he wouldn’t have to stay another 30 days.
“This time, I brought my mat along,” Ronnie said.
Ronnie was one of many families who spent the night in SGH’s hallways that HelpSomebody reached out to last Thursday night.
HelpSomebody is a social enterprise begun by Dr Dalvinder Singh driven by a simple cause – to help somebody.
The idea came about after he saved a child’s hand stuck at the escalator about a month ago.
A group of 24 volunteers, most who met each other for the first time, gathered at a fast food outlet before heading to SGH.
At the food outlet, they received ‘hygiene care packs’ from kind strangers who found out about their effort to reach out to patients’ families through Facebook.
Each hygiene care pack contains a set of tooth brush and toothpaste, face towel, disposable razor, shampoo, shower gel, comb, wet wipes, tissue, packed biscuits, mineral water and a carry bag.
A total of 25 donors came forward to help; some stayed and proceeded to SGH to help in distributing the care packs and some lent their support through the items they donated.
In the end, a total of 100 care packs were collected and distributed by 24 volunteers at SGH.
Dr Dalvinder pointed out these items were put together after going around asking the families what they needed during their hospital stay.
Some families were not prepared for their stay in the hospitals as they came with their sick loved ones by ambulance during emergency.
“Hospitals care for the patients but nobody care for the patients’ families,” he commented.
“There is no need to go far places like Afghanistan for us to help somebody. We can just start it here in our own backyard.”
Dr Dalvinder stressed that their purpose was not merely to hand out the care packs but also to sit down and be a listening ear to the families.
One of HelpSomebody’s volunteers was Wendy Earnest who knew exactly what it was like to care for their loved ones at the hospital.
About 12 years ago, she and her siblings had to take turns taking care of their brother who was battling cancer at the time.
“At the cancer ward, they allowed one of us to stay at his side,” she shared.
While she stayed in the ward at the time, Wendy was surprised to see the number of people staying in the hospital corridors.
Wendy finds it easy to relate to these families. “In our lives, we will know at least one person who is going through some sickness or is in critical condition.”
As for Wendy, sadly her brother passed away a year after his diagnosis.
“Doing this is something very close to my heart,” she shared.
Bibiana Ajit Francis, 31, whose aunt was admitted for a brain haemorrhage came all the way from Bau to spend the night with her family at SGH.
“For me, I don’t mind sleeping in the corridors. Our thoughts are on our family member who is sick, we are not here looking to be comfortable,” she said.
“As long as all of our family members here together, I don’t even mind sleeping on the road.”
Bibiana, together with her parents and relatives gathered outside the neurosurgery ward to say a prayer for her sick aunt.
“Sometimes, we get too tired that we just continued to sleep without even bothering to light up the mosquito coils,” Bibiana said, adding that she has no complaint at all about the current situation.
“I understand taking care of the patients’ families is beyond the power of hospital administration.”
She applauded Dr Dalvinder and his team of volunteers for their willingness to come and spend some time with the patients’ families.
Impressed by HelpSomebody’s work, Bibiana commented: “They came here even when it is not their working hours. Even for us who are working, we just go home and do our own thing right after work.”
The team was also aided by an impromptu volunteer Batu Kitang assemblyman Lo Khere Chiang who came to visit a friend but in the end came along and stayed throughout the whole visit.
Dr Dalvinder announced HelpSomebody was planning to make fortnightly visits to SGH.
For more information on how to volunteer or donate, click HelpSomebody.