Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Health Screening Visit No 2

The day after the visit to the Specialist Hospital, Ram and I went for our scheduled general health screening visit to the community medical centre not too far away from our house. We went very early, about 7.20 am, about 40 minutes to clinic opening time. There was already a queue at the main door which was still closed. We got into the queue. The main door was opened at precisely 7.30 am. Inside the door a nurse stood by and handed out queue numbers to those already in the queue and the queue proceeded to the registration counter and placed their appointed card in the tray. Ram’s number was 46 and mine was 47. The queue numbers were used throughout the screening, consultation and medicine prescription process.

Queue numbers were called for registration at 7.45 am, 15 minutes before the official opening time. Ram and I got ourselves registered at about 8.05 am a mere 20 minutes after registration started. Our medical files were handed to us and we were to proceed to the screening rooms as indicated on the outside of our medical files. Ram had to go through two screening tests and I had to go through three screenings before we get to see the doctor for consultations. My queue number was called and I got to see the doctor at just before 9.00 am while Ram had her turn not too long after. We had our prescription filled and all done by 9.20 am. All in all we were there for 2 hours, and they were not computerized. Everything were done manually.

Comparing this process with the process Ram went through the previous day it was obvious that a serious review of the work process in the specialist hospital is needed. Computerization to improve record keeping is one thing but to improve work flow is another. Someone in that organization need to seriously look at the work flow and process if there is a desire to improve patients waiting time……

MKI Ramblings Unlimited,
Petaling Jaya.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Health Screening Visit No 1

Ram had an appointment for health screening at a government specialist clinic located in a hospital across town. Her appointment was for 10.00 am and knowing the condition of the hospital, always overcrowded with out-patients, we tried to arrive at the hospital early. But it was not to be. We got caught in two traffic jams on the way that delayed our arrival but were just in time though.

The hospital has gone on-line. Everything is supposed to be computerized. Many advantages to be derived from this computerization exercise but was it successful? Yes, maybe…… and maybe it is taking a little too long to achieve all the desired results but the exercise is surely beneficial not withstanding…… This is a specialist hospital, remember…..

The next day Ram and I visited the government community health centre for our general health screening, the health institution we go to before there is, or if there is, a need to go to the specialist hospital.

I spied a few things that I thought need mentioning. I dropped Ram at the foyer of the hospital for her to go in and register herself while I went to park the car. It was apparent that there was a big crowd of outpatients that day as it was difficult to find a parking space even in the very large underground parking lot. She was still not registered by the time I get to her and it was a good 45 minutes by the time Ram’s number was called. She only had about 20 patients ahead of her. Apparently each outpatient will take approximately three minutes to be registered, and electronically at that. After registration she has to report at the proper clinic, in Ram’s case the ‘gyne’ clinic, and again reporting, electronically of course, took a while. She was given a new queue number. It was then the waiting game again.

Finding a seat in the large waiting lounge was easy but because of the large crowd the available seats are far at the back. Ram has her new queue number but the nurse chose to call the patients by name instead of keying the number on the queue number screen! The crowd is made up of various people, the elderly couples, the young and not so young couples, families with young children and with the parents not bothered that their children run around, true to the behaviors of young children without doubt not able to sit still even for a short while, and bothering others! In the obvious din of the present crowd one has to strain to hear one’s name being called by the obviously bothered nurse! It was indeed a runaway from the ease that electronics were supposed to provide!

Finally Ram’s name was called, a good two and a half hours after the appointed time, to see the medical specialist. She was in for about fifteen minutes. Her records were electronically kept of course and the specialist had fingers on the electronic keyboard most of the period Ram was there. A few questions were asked of course, to see if everything is ok and then it was decided that Ram continues with the same previously prescribed medicine. So she received the medicine prescription from the specialist, I wondered why this was not done electronically, and off we went to the pharmacy which was on the same floor with the clinic. She has to register her prescription and again was given a queue number, and another waiting game began. By the time she received her medicine it was past lunch time.

It took us about four hours for a fifteen minutes consultation! electronically handled at that! Well, it does not appear as though things have improved does it?

In my following post let us see how the general health screening visit at the community health center went, its not computerized, and compare it with the specialist hospital…..

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A New Dawn for the Judiciary and The Country.

A new chapter for the Judiciary in the country has been created. There has been a lot of flak on the independence of the judiciary and the public has high suspicions of its ability to be fair in judgments. Even the international community has passed adverse remarks on the independence and transparency of the judiciary. So, when the current Prime Minister, who has been receiving similar flak on the way he has managed the country on his first term as Prime Minister, spoke at length as guest of honor at the Bar Council Dinner a couple of nights ago, on the move to redeem the independence of the judiciary and make the appointment of judges transparent through an independent judiciary commission, the crowd he spoke to, comprising members of the judicial community i.e, the judges, the lawyers and all ‘who’s who’ in the legal fraternity gave him a loud, thunderous standing ovation that lasted for quite a long while.

Amongst the crowd that attended the dinner were former judges who, perceived by many, were wrongly reprimanded, suspended and dismissed for purported misbehavior as judges and other charges. All these charges culminated from the issue of the ruling party, at one time 20 years ago, were declared an illegal organization and were deregistered through the courts. Subsequent events related to this deregistration had led to the judges, five of them, being summarily discharged of their duties initially and sometime later two were reinstated. Since then, independence of the judiciary has been under question. Perceptions were that the judiciary had become subservient to the Administration. The Administrative Head was seen to have an invincible hand in the decision making process and thus affects judgments meted. One thing led to another and the situation almost got out of hand when there were demonstrations and shows of dissent amongst the legal fraternity, resulting in the public and the masses opening up their eyes and began to be more critical of the way the then government ran the country. At the last general elections, the Federal government lost its previously comfortable two thirds majorities, and lost five states to the alternative or opposing parties. Several heavyweights of the ruling party or coalition of parties lost their seats to the opposition. The public and the masses indicated to the ruling government that they were not happy and something must be done to put things back on tract.

To make matters worse there was a video circulating in the internet prior to the elections showing a telephone conversation between a prominent lawyer and the chief justice (not seen in the video) with the main topic of discussion being the appointment of judges and there were a lot of name dropping in the conversation indicating that there was clear manipulation by the then current Administration. This invited greater ire of the public and was perhaps another contributing factor to the losses in the general elections.

With all the uncertainties and the talk of reinvention to redeem public confidence, the speech by the Prime Minister as above was timely. He not only assured of a judicial reform but also, in no uncertain terms, indicated the wrongs being done to the five judges. He also indicated how the present government intends to remedy this wrong. It is my fervent wish that this will only be the beginning of the many reforms that the Prime Minister will embark on. He has said many times previously that he will fight corruption but we have not seen any credible proof of it so far. Let’s hope that this becomes his next reform.

With the judicial reform and its independence ensured, with corruptions in check, with improved and transparent administration, the country should be well in its way to political recovery. These promises have been made before. The issues were mentioned many times and assurances were given that they will be positively addressed. However not much were seen to be done, no attention for the benefit of the masses were made and the masses saw attentions given to just the selected few, the so-called 'cronies' of those in power. That was one of the reasons the ruling coalition lost a lot of mileage in the last election. I hope it is truly the awakening that these new promises and new initiatives are taken. I hope it is not hope in vain and not spoken way too soon and that the future of my children and grandchildren are now assured. That is my wish…….

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Saturday, April 19, 2008

How Human Can It Be?

I was in the class talking about the oil and gas industry to a group of new executives. And as I usually and normally practice, I intersperse my talk with some of my past working experience. Sharing experiences is one way of spurring people on and I hope my experience would encourage the listeners to do better than me.

One topic that I always shared with my listeners was the fact on treating others as human beings. This was my dad’s advise to me when I was about to start work. Treat everyone as a human being, he said. Do not treat them as Managers or as clerks or as workers etc. Respect them for the position they are in irrespective. They are all human, with feelings, with emotions, having ups and downs, positive and negative feelings and these must be acknowledged. I have held close to this advise ever since and I find that people open up to me easily. So, this was my advice to the young executives every time.

An example of the above was when I was asked to do a situational study of an organization that had many human problems. Many initiatives introduced were not well received by the staff and indeed participations were low. Staff view them as intruding into their well being or whatever is left of it at that point in time. There was a lot of negativity around. They tried ‘team building’ exercises but failed to achieve the desired results. Money was spent but the return in terms of positive human attitude was very much to be desired. The management wanted to get to the root of the problem and put it right. That was a positive start, I thought. I started talking to almost everyone, at all levels, starting from the ‘Head Honcho’ right down to the cleaners. I spent a few weeks doing this and I discovered many things wrong in the way things were managed, especially on HR issues, but the most glaring ones were the way people were treated. There were no personal touches and everything centered on work output and the company’s ‘bottom-line’ such that people, relevant staff I mean, felt that they were just like the machines that they operate, such that they do not need to use their brains and just do what they have to do and nothing more. I called it ‘workers leaving their brains at the entrance gate or at home’ when they go to work. There was a need then to have a behavioral change across the board. Amongst the recommendations I made were for such changes to be made. Management made concerted efforts to do so, and recognition of the staff, personal and group wise, was initiated. Several new initiatives, an example was improvement teams, involving all levels of staff were formed with specific targeted objectives and regular review of progress. Personal criticisms were minimized or avoided but constructive criticism were encouraged. Slowly attitudes changed and they were back on track not too long after that.

The best of friends remain the best for the simple reason that there is respect for each other. They will drift apart once this respect wanes or is lost. It is the same in the work place. Staff will put high values on personal respect, with which goes along positive responses. Personal respects equate with human recognition and being human is what people naturally do everyday of their lives. Recognizing this will ease person to person relationships. Life should be lived pleasantly throughout and for that I seek guidance from the Almighty always.

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A New Initiative and A Demand on Limited Time

I was contacted by a former colleague and met up soon after with him and a few others who are retirees like me. Our meeting was to discuss the structuring of a training initiative for new intakes of technical staff to the organization that we used to work for. The training outfit that conducts regular training for the organization is already overwhelmed with their training programs such that facilities and resources are stretched to the limit and thus an offer was made for Retirees to put an act together and complement the training initiatives.

The urgent need for this initiative arose due to the heavy outflow of staff as a result of an increase in demand for trained technical staff in the oil and gas industry especially in the Middle East region. With China and also South East Asian countries also looking at increasing their oil and gas downstream production output the demand for trained technical staff remain very real, thus the need to be prepared with a succession plan.

There are many issues to be addressed in the preparation for the initiative. The location of training, classrooms, administrations, Trainers and Trainees profiling and grouping, logistics and many others have all to be considered. Preference is for the Trainers to come from the Retirees group, for them to impart their knowledge and experience to the next generation of employees.

In addition to my current commitment to my former place of work the above preparation takes up more of my time such that my other activities, with NGOs, with community etc., that I am involved in has to be tuned down somewhat. Looks like I will be busier than when I was working hmmmmm!! I will just have to juggle my time carefully. Ram, on her part, has indicated her support but warned me not to get carried away. I am aware that age is now a factor to be included in the equation and is definitely going to be restrictive. But I thank the Almighty for this opportunity to give back to society, so-called ‘energy received, energy returned……’ and I seek His guidance for me to do the right thing at the right pace given the constraints and may He be pleased…….

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Friday, April 04, 2008

A Mother’s Wish and A Very Sad Ending

My paternal aunt who passed away last Tuesday had just one surviving son. Her second son passed away several years back due to an illness. Her husband passed away years ago when the two boys were still very small. So, for all intents and purposes there were only the two of them as family. Except that we, her nephews and nieces, were close to her and was her immediate family.

The surviving son???? For some reason or other he could not be found. Ever since the operation we were trying to find this cousin of ours and no one could locate him. Calls to his phone were not answered, sms’s sent were not acknowledged. Apparently one close associate of his managed to meet him once and informed him of his mum’s operation. However he never made an effort to see his mother. All of us wondered what has happened to this young man. To the last day, all efforts to locate him failed. The late mother must be pining for her son although she had never asked any of us about him. We can almost detect the sadness in her face. We dared not broach the subject with her lest it saddens her further. So it was us who kept around her as often as we could and hope to cheer her up but alas we know it is not the same as having her own flesh and blood with her.

Why am I writing this? It is not to for the reason of opening bare the family’s negativities but to share the importance of family ties. I asked myself many times why this son does not make an effort to take care of his mother and every time I conclude that he, perhaps, had never been exposed to positive family values. The times when we interacted with him, although he is very much younger than me, younger than my children even, I noticed that he did not display positive family values. I learned that the only times he visited his mother were when he needed something from her and not for other reasons.

Strong family values, apart from other positive life values, need to be ingrained in a person from young and it has to be developed as one grows older. This, I think, was what was missing with this young man. May the Almighty guide this young man and forgive him for his misdeeds towards his mum and may she rest in peace. I wish he has access to computers and with that has access to my blog and perhaps read this posting. Who knows, this message may stir him to realization. May the Almighty shower forgiveness to my late aunt and may she rest in peace, Amin ya Rabbul Alamin.

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

A Forced Cross Country Return Trip

It was a Tuesday, a leisurely day for Ram and I. Monday was when I was occupied facilitating an induction program for a group of young executives in Kuala Terengganu, and the next session was scheduled for Thursday in Paka, a two hours drive south of Kuala Terengganu. We checked out of the hotel in Kuala Terengganu at just after noon on Tuesday and headed for Sita’s house in Kerteh, a half an hour drive south of Paka. We were to check into the hotel in Paka on Wednesday evening, hence Tuesday was for us to spend the night in Sita’s house. This has been our regular routine whenever I have to perform my commitments to my former place pf work.

This Tuesday drive was like any other Tuesday drives from Kuala Terengganu to Kerteh for Ram and I, slow and leisurely, with Ram dosing off now and then and me munching peanuts or crackers or sweets to keep from dosing off too. Sometimes I do the ‘wirid’ or chant the various names of the Almighty, and sometimes I sing aloud favourite songs, whistle, scream and so on, anything to keep from dosing off. But this Tuesday turned out to be quite different. Our routine went haywire somewhat.

Half way through the journey I received a call from my brother Abid, in Melaka, that my paternal aunty, who underwent an operation, to remove her left leg that had given way to diabetes, a couple of months ago, was in a serious condition. She was not herself and was unable to talk, my brother said. Her legs and hands felt very cold but her chest and neck area was warm. She was struggling to talk but was producing incoherent sounds. The immediate thought that came to my mind was that her time was near, very near. I suggested that we say prayers for her and I was determined to reach Sita’s house quickly and say prayers for her, afterall I have not yet performed my noon prayers. On reaching Sita’s house I immediately performed ablution, said my prayers, and no sooner than that I received another call from Abid that my aunt have passed away. I continued saying prayers and read the Yaseen verses from the Quran for her. She was 70 last November. Exactly 108 days ago a peternal uncle, elder brother to the deceased, passed away. He was 74

Ram and I decided that we should make haste to Melaka and left immediately after performing our late afternoon prayers. My late aunt was taken care of by my uncle, her younger brother, and his family since the operation. So we headed for his house. It was 6.00 pm when we left Sita’s house and arrived my uncle’s house in Melaka at just before midnight. We performed the dusk and after dusk prayers and I then read the Quran and ‘tahlil’ for the deceased. Others who were trickling in to visit joined me in reading the Quran and the ‘tahlil’. Mum arrived from JB half an hour after us and joined in too. Mum came with another brother of mine, Joe and his wife.

It was already 1.30 am by the time we were done. Joe had booked a hotel room for the night and mum decided to follow him. I followed Abid home to rest for the night. All of us realized that we have had no dinner yet and were all hungry. In the haste to attend to the deceased we forgot about dinner and at that late hour getting food was of no hassle. All night restaurants were everywhere. It’s as though people never stop eating!!

By the time we got to bed it was already 3.00am. Preparation of the deceased for burial was planned for 10am on Wednesday. So we had some sleep and rest meanwhile. Funeral services were all done by 11.30am. Mum, family members, Ram and I went to Abid’s house to rest before returning to our respective destinations. After freshening up Ram and I left Melaka to return to Paka. It was another six hours drive and on this return journey Melaka to Paka, traffic was rather heavy certain portions of the way. I was really feeling ‘pooped’ on arrival at the hotel. Only sleep was on my mind then…………..

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya