Every second counts: Mum rushing unconscious son to KKH shares difficulties locating emergency department

PHOTO: Facebook/Juliana Goh

In the wee hours of the morning, a couple rushing their son to the KK Women's and Children's Hospital's (KKH) children's emergency (CE) wondered which way to go.

Juliana Goh shared the difficulties she faced trying to locate the emergency department on Aug 24 — her son had lost consciousness after complaining of a headache and elevated heart rate.

They went to the entrance with the most prominent signage, but it turned out to be Urgent Obstetrics and Gynaecology Centre, she wrote in a Facebook post on Sept 16.

A nurse there placed the 11-year-old on a wheelchair and promptly took him to the CE which was about two minutes' away.

By then, doctors could not find the boy's pulse and had to resuscitate him, Goh recounted.

She shared photos of the hospital driveway showing how visitors could miss the sign for the emergency department and pointed out how the CE entrance was blocked by a security barrier as well as hidden behind a tentage.

Goh also faced other issues after her child was warded in the children's intensive care unit (CICU).

"The entire experience was horrendous and painful, there was simply no empathy," she claimed.

While both herself and her husband were registered as caregivers, only one person was allowed in the room at a time. For the other to enter, the system required a manual override, she said.

When they received the doctor's call in the early morning of Sept 2, the couple rushed back to the CICU, but were held up at the door due to the restrictions. 

The anxious parents only managed to get in after a security guard used his own pass to grant one of them access.

Their son died later that evening.

The mum of two, who's a senior customer experience design consultant, suggested that a different workflow should be designed for ICU patients and their caregivers.

"I do not wish for other caregivers to encounter similar painful experiences while they are already worried about their loved ones."

KKH reviewing directional signage to enhance wayfinding

In response to AsiaOne's queries, Alson Goh, chief operating officer at KKH said that the hospital had been in touch with the patient's family to address their concerns.    

"KKH offers our deepest condolences to Ms Goh's family. We know it is a difficult time."

"We deeply appreciate Ms Goh's feedback. KKH is taking a review to enhance our directional signage leading into the hospital and around the CE to further facilitate wayfinding."

He also explained that heightened measures have been put in place for the safe management of patients and visitors since the start of the pandemic in Singapore. All measures including the visitation policy are in line with existing Covid-19 guidelines.

"While we had made exceptional provisions to CICU visitation in light of the condition of Ms Goh's son, we do acknowledge that our communication can be improved."

KKH added it will remain contactable to render further support to the patient's family.