When a child gets hurt

The other day when I was checking out updates on Facebook, I saw a friend had commented on a post about a baby girl gotten hurt in a daycare (in Singapore). There was a picture of the baby with lacerations around her left eye. I am not sure how old the baby girl is because only her face was shown and there was no mention of her age, but I am guessing she may be between 12 to 16 months old.

According to the mother who put up the post, she got a call from the daycare in the late afternoon that her baby girl was hurt. Apparently the baby was on a high chair, and a two years old toddler jumped onto the back of the chair which caused it to fall over. The poor baby knocked her face against a table. The teacher told the mother that the baby was bleeding from the cut and she would take her to the nearest clinic.
When the parents arrived at the daycare, they were shocked to see the teacher with their still bleeding baby in her arm, and there was a rather deep wound close to her left eye. The teacher explained that the clinic was closed and so the child couldn’t receive any medical attention. 

The parents then decided to take the baby to the private hospital, Gleneagles, which was where the girl was born, with the teacher following them. The nurses there told them the baby needed to see an eye specialist before they could administer any treatment. The doctor came and remarked that the cut was close to the eye and might require surgery, and the baby had to stay overnight for observation. Eye drops were then applied into her eye.

The parents spoke to the daycare supervisor about payment for the medical costs and the latter told them to get the treatment first and the daycare would pay for it.  The bill came up to more than S $7500, and when approached, the day care refused to pay the full amount, claiming that the parents could have gone to the nearest hospital instead of Gleneagles, and they would only pay for the treatment cost of S$1600, and not the doctor’s fee which amounted to S $5000. The parents were wondering what recourse they have other than hiring a lawyer which would be another big sum of money.

I really hope the baby girl will recover fully and get well soon. To be honest, I don’t think there is anything the parents can do to get full reimbursement from the daycare. I do hope the baby has medical insurance. But judging from what the mother wrote about how they tried wrangling with the supervisor and how resistant the daycare is, it doesn’t seem like the baby is insured.

Based on the descriptions provided by the mother, I seriously doubt if this particular daycare is professionally run.  Firstly why is the baby placed on a high chair? This should only be used under constant adult supervision. I also want to know why are the babies and toddlers put together? Babies require special attention and they should be separated from the older children, even toddlers. And I don’t think there are  enough teachers at the daycare to handle both babies and toddlers.

In Buddy’s daycare, the infant care is in a separate area with dedicated teachers. There is no baby high chair. Instead there are small chairs with straps and a table for older babies who can sit up and feed on their own. Usually the teachers will put these babies on the chair during snack times and when they are read to. In fact it looks to us that the chairs seem pretty comfy because the babies would sit quietly on them, even Buddy didn’t fidget. My husband once joked that seeing those babies on the chairs reminded him of a scene in the movie “Cowboys versus Aliens”, when a bunch of humans were mesmerized as they stared at an alien light.  Well, at least no toddler will clamber up the chair and cause it to fall.

Apparently the daycare in question has no CCTV installed which is a big no no since it’s hard to investigate what really happened.  This is a must have and the center must keep the record for a couple of months, which is what Buddy’s daycare does. Seriously, the safety and development of a child should be of utmost priority for a daycare. And I wonder what exactly is the priority for this particular one.

Also on the topic of daycare, many parents tend to be dazzled by fancy names or association  with some fancy childcare expert. The daycare where this accident happened is one with the fancy name. Whether such daycare follows the guidelines of the so-called childcare expertise is another question altogether. What parents should do before deciding on a daycare for their babies or kids is to conduct interviews and visits to various centers. Yes you have to spend time doing this in order to see for yourself how it is run, how the kids behave, the environment, and security etc.

Before we put Buddy in a daycare, we visited a number of locations which I penned down in an earlier post “And the competition starts now” dated 5 November 2012. Basically you have to prepare a list of questions before the visit, and arrange with the supervisor a time to observe the classes. From the visits and the conversations you will then be able to make an informed decision.

I’m also surprised that the teacher taking care of the injured baby didn’t even call an ambulance to take her to the hospital though she was bleeding.  But I’m even more surprised that the parents took her to a private hospital. For God’s sake, it doesn’t matter where the baby was born, for any emergencies involving babies and children, send them to KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) because it is best equipped and trained to handle them. In fact, other hospitals will refer emergency or tough cases of young patients to KKH.  Not only is the hospital a dedicated one for children, but it also provides affordable care because it is a public hospital.

I might sound like I’m promoting KKH, but this is based on my experience with Buddy falling ill. We had sent Buddy to the ER at Changi General Hospital in the middle of night because we didn’t want to make the longer trip to KKH.  The ER doctor advised us that KKH is actually a better place for Buddy to seek treatments. Since then we had been to KKH numerous times when Buddy had very high fever and when he had breathlessness. In fact he was hospitalized for bronchiolitis when he was 13 months old. We had generally good experience with the doctors and nurses there, and the costs are not exorbitant.

Unlike the public hospital, private ones in Singapore are either listed or owned by private investors. Naturally, profit is of priority to the shareholders, and so how do you think the medical costs will be? Even though public hospitals have KPIs but they have huge economy of scale and also partially subsidized by the Ministry of Health.  I don’t think the level of service or available equipment there is any worse off than those in private hospitals.

The abovementioned mother found out too late that Gleneagles hospital is owned by the Parkway group. Actually, she hasn’t got the full picture. It’s owned by Parkway Pantai, a holding company for all the health care services assets in Singapore and Malaysia. And PP is 100% owned by IHH Healthcare, a company that was set up by Khazanah (Malaysian sovereign wealth fund), and has been listed since 2012. When SWF gets onto businesses, the aim is not noble.

Parents should also make sure their babies have hospitalization insurance, which for Singapore’s situation, that will be the MediShield. I also encourage parents to get the extra coverage for co-payment and deductibles, because they can amount to a couple of thousand dollars. In fact before the baby is born, contact your insurance agent to make the request, and the agent will prepare the documentations for you when baby turns a month old. (I’m not sure whether insurance companies will now cover babies right from birth but that was the case 2 years ago.) It especially makes sense to have medical Insurance now when  the Ministry of Health has very recently announced the launch of MediShield Life, which basically covers you for life and for all congenital illnesses. And by the way, getting medical coverage for the baby is far more important than  paying for private cord blood banking.

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