That’s me, shooting from the hip at SF Loh’s new clinic operation at Thomson Medical Center. Two days ago a friend, who’s also a patient of his, told me she tried calling the clinic 10 times and nobody answered the phone. She was feeling cranky because she was suffering from a bad cold, with a seriously blocked nose and sore throat. She had wanted to see if she could see Loh and check on the baby. So understandably, she was really fed up. Imagine if it was an emergency, whom could she contact? There was no emergency contact number provided in the appointment card that Loh gave us. I don’t even have his number, only his email address. She was tempted to march to his clinic and demanded to see him without an appointment.
I told my husband of the situation and wondered if the clinic was really operating. He told me to try calling it, and I managed to get hold of a staff on my second call. I asked for an emergency number and she said she would revert because she had to consult her senior. (Hmmm, she’s new, but how come she wasn’t trained on the operating procedures?) Well, she did return my call rather quickly I have to admit. But turned out there was no number, instead I was told to go to the 24-hr clinic at TMC for emergency situation. I thought in the USA, the preggie ladies are able to contact their gynae on the phone, how come not in Singapore? The staff could hardly hear me over the phone, she explained that the clinic was very busy and noisy. Immediately my mind conjured up of a flea market. I told my husband that the clinic could turn out like clinic D at KKH, which I totally dislike. I had expected the private suite ambience or better. He tried to reason with me that busy and noisy don’t equate to ‘marketplace’. “Anyway you know Loh, he’s not the chi chi type.” Well I don’t care if he’s chi chi or not, preggie ladies want a comfortable setting.
Then I received an email from my friend who was on her way to the clinic, as she managed to speak to a staff and was told to go see Loh. She also told me that there was apparently only one staff at the clinic doing all the tests, answering calls and taking payments. I was shocked. What kind of clinic was Loh operating?? Was he so cheapskate to employ only one staff? I messaged my husband but he was skeptical that was the case, “are you sure you’ve got the facts right?” In fact he thought my friend and I were being a little hysterical. He told me to take a chill pill, otherwise we might set off a thermonuclear explosion. But I didn’t think our concerns were wrong, I had expected that since Loh is an experienced doctor who had been with KKH for so long, he should have operated the clinic better. So I was taken aback that he hadn’t got his ducks in a row, and seriously doubted his clinic operation because it sounded amateurish to me. My husband defended him that it was only the start of a new operation and I should give it time to get things running smoothly.
My friend emailed me at the clinic that the consultation rooms are bigger but there seems to be some space constraint, because the blood pressure was taken at the reception counter. I was like, why the hell does he and his partner require bigger rooms, why couldn’t they have allocated a room for doing tests like at the private suite? In fact I started to wonder if I did the right thing to follow Loh to TMC. My husband was exasperated with me because I was so judgmental without even seeing the clinic for myself.
Anyway guess what? My friend later wrote to me that there’re actually 3 staff at the clinic. She got the wrong info from some forum website. She also realized there is an unused room at the back of the clinic and thought it might be used for tests later. Loh told her they don’t have a full staff yet. Also he has got a new fancy 3D scan machine that he’s still learning how to use from the sales technician, and a new iMac, which he’s trying to figure out the keyboard. (He confessed to my friend that he is a computer idiot.) A staff told her that the day before (first day of operation), the clinic was so busy that even those with appointments had to wait 2 hours!! Apparently the clinic hasn’t got its appointment system sorted out yet. I told my husband, and he shook his head, “in future please aim before you shoot. You were acting like the wild wild west cowboy, shooting from the hip! Told you the operation just started. Got to give it time to sort things out. By the time you visit Loh, he will have got a smooth operation going, to accommodate the most difficult patient in his career history!”
My friend was apologetic she painted a negative picture of Loh’s clinic to me. She concurs with my husband that things would turn out better when I visit the place. She revealed that Loh charges S$68 for consultation and S$30 for the scan. The consultation is actually cheaper than KKH, and the scan is only S$2 more. My husband has suspected that Loh will go for the volume strategy and ‘macdonaldized’ the IVF treatment, which will then lower costs across the board. During our last meeting with Loh, he told us that he can’t just treat the sultan of Brunei, and mentioned about making sure the cost is reasonable. We think he will undercut other private clinics, and attract the foreigners from even KKH to TMC since they can’t receive subsidies. Anyway my appointment with Loh is next Fri, let’s see if the most difficult patient can be satisfied.
My friend emailed me a long comment from a patient of Loh taken from a forum, who went to Loh’s night clinic service last night and found the place a little chaotic. She was told by the nursing assistant to take her blood pressure medication 3 times a day, but she remembers Loh told her to take it 2 times. So she had to write to Loh to clarify and was relieved she did because Loh confirms what he told her. The patient got a bit concerned with the clinic operations, and that also caused my friend to have doubts. My husband was unperturbed, “does it matter if the medication is taken 2 times or 3 times a day? The dosage is likely rather low anyway. Doesn’t she know that medication is not an exact science. Now there’re a bunch of emotionally charged mommies-to-be who are getting worked up over non-critical matters, like the Salem witch hunt and soon Loh would get branded as an ‘evil bastard’ who’s out to scheme for money. You have to understand what really matters, and what doesn’t. Your physical and mental health are most important, of course medication is important but you’ve to understand how it works. Anything external doesn’t matter, so the crowded clinic doesn’t matter. In fact you don’t have to wait in the clinic, you can go somewhere for a bite. The one thing I’ve to fault Loh is that even though he has a deep reservoir of knowledge, he sucks at communications. He doesn’t tell people what are trivial or unimportant. So you should only focus on the important stuff.” My husband also said he definitely has to be at the clinic with me because I need a person with a cool head around.