My mother had an unfortunate fall down a couple of steps the other night. It was a bad fall and her head bled profusely and that she also had bumps on her face. We rushed her to the Accident & Emergency at RIPAS. At first I was thinking whether we really should go to RIPAS as my previous experience with the A&E Unit is that you might be better off anywhere else but there.
My last experience was taking my son there about four years ago when he fell off from a stool and hit his head on the floor. When we arrived at the A&E at about 9 pm, it was like visiting a market of some sorts. People were all over the place and you didn't feel as if you are in an A&E, more like being in a general outpatient department where nobody has an appointment. It was that chaotic.
However when we took my mother there, the place I have to admit has transformed dramatically since the last time I went there. The place is better organised, the waiting area has increased and in a much better condition and the staff are very professional. The registration was fast and the triage was done quickly and even though my mother's condition was not very critical, relatively speaking, medical attention was quickly given. After given a few stitches, we accompanied her to the radiology department for a CT scan and two x-rays. For each of those, a duty specialist came over, the neurosurgeon for the CT scan, the orthopaedics specialist for the bones and the oral maxillo facial specialist for the face. And on top of that we also have the duty doctor at the A&E. He came over and explained to my father and me about my mother's condition and the treatments that were to be given.
During that four hour stay, I watched the other patients which seemed to be mostly babies and children suffering from asthma and breathing problems and a couple of other elderly people who had falls as well, being dealt with quickly and efficiently. The large crowd that used to be there the last time I came over was no longer there. Part of the reason is that there is now an evening clinic over at the Health Centre at Ong Sum Ping and probably people are getting the message that you should only go to A&E if you have an accident and it is an emergency. By dealing with less people, the staff were able to give better attention to medical emergencies. But of course the improvement of the overall environment has helped tremendously.
The only downside I noticed is that the signages are lacking. Most people who walked through the main door at the A&E would automatically go to the old counter. If there is someone there, the staff would be pointing to which door they have to go through for the registration and the triage. But they are not there all the time and these people would like stand around and not knowing what to do or where to go. The only sign for the direction that I saw was a faded printed piece of paper on the side of the wall which nobody would have seen unless you are sitting at the waiting area. My father and I were the unofficial information centre last night pointing to which door and counter these people should go to. Our good deeds of the night. Other than the signage problem, I really have no complaint about our visit.
Though my sister was a little trifle annoyed as each specialist would ask for a different set of x-ray and everytime, we would have to go trudging to the radiology department, but no complaint from me there. If this had been some other country or even at JPMC, the first thing they wanted to see was either your medical insurance policy or your credit card. In Brunei at RIPAS, they ask for nothing more than $1 registration fee. Each of those treatments would have cost a bomb. I am thankful to be in Brunei. I know that there are still other shortcomings that RIPAS need to overcome but for once I am grateful that the A&E has performed more than what I expected. Thank you to the Government and thank you to the staff at RIPAS and thank you to MOH for making all the changes possible.