Friday, July 31, 2009


The last time I visited my neighbourhood polyclinic was 2003. It has been such a while that the polyclinic has already moved all my records into storage and thus, I was treated like a first time patient.

Had been feeling feverish and suffering from a stuffy nose for the past 2 days. Information about N1H1 symptoms was not very specific on the Ministry of Health website, in my point, as to what is the specific temperature for a fever; whether it is a combination of fever, cough, stuffy nose, sore throat, body ache and tiredness that will consitute N1H1 symptoms or any one of those will. I did further research to learn that temperature reaching 37.5 d.c. will be considered a fever.

It was not until the temperature soared to 38 d.c. that I have decided to check it out with a doctor the next morning. I was comtemplating between private clinics and polyclinic. There are several private ones and only one polyclinic in the area where I live. This is one of the many conveniences that I missed, I need not travel far for medical and dental care. In fact, I just have to walk for less than a 100 metres. And most importantly, I do not have to make prior appointments. And I certainly enjoy the freedom of walking straight into any private clinics or polyclinics in any parts of this island irregardless of the neighbourhood that I live in and without having the need to register with one particular clinic first.

Private clinics charge higher fees while polyclinic are heavily subsidised by the government for citizens. The advantage of private clinics is that they are opened for 7 days a week although it will often be a half day on Sundays and stay open till 9pm. Polyclinics are opened to the public from Mon to Sat but only half day on Saturdays and they are opened till 4:30pm. Theoretically speaking, private clinics should have a shorter queue than polyclinics although from my own experience, this is certainly not the case. It took me 2 hours of wait to see my doctor and to get my medication at one private clinic and for having to pay more.

At the polyclinic, as it is in the height of N1H1 cases, there are several procedures to complete before you get to see the doctor.

1)At the entrance, walk-in patients were screened for fever/flu clinic or normal doctor consultation. Patients seemed to be joining the queue every second, indicating the masses that this polyclinic served.
2)Quick registration. Then I was referred to the fever/flu clinic with a queue number card.
3)At fever/flu clinic, another round of registeration and checking my previous record and I had to provide details of my conditions to the nurse.
4)Wait for doctor.
5) Submit prescription to pharmacy.
6)Get medication from pharmacy and proceed to the next room to pay.

Looking at the numbers on the number board which the doctors were serving, I have about 70 patients before my turn which was of no surprise as polyclinic serves the massive public. There were four doctors dedicated to fever/flu patients. As the waiting area was full, I had to stand by the railings. I came prepared and therefore took out my laptop and did a little bit of writing during the wait.

When I got to see the doctor, I learned that a fever running higher than 38 d.c. together with the rest of the flu symptoms were the likelihood of H1N1. He prescribed cough mixture, nasal spray, throat rinse and flu tablets for me.

The entire procedure took me an hour and 40 minutes and cost me a total SGD$14.80 (consultation plus medication). All this without having to be forced to pay to the monthly compulsory National Insurance contribution and the extra medication fee that one has to pay at NHS.