Monday, September 29, 2014

Increase train services on pedestrian nights - Raymond Anthony Fernando's letter to the press

Letter to The Straits Times: Increase train services on pedestrian nights

My letter to The Straits times on the above matter is published today, Monday 29th September 2014.

It is a good move to close a section of Orchard Road to vehicles once a month (“Stretch of Orchard Rd to be closed on ‘pedestrian nights’”; last Friday).

Shoppers who patronise the shops and restaurants will bring in more business that will, in turn, spur the economy.  Once the economy is boosted, more social support can be given to our needy citizens.

Pedestrian Night is also an opportunity for families to spend quality time together in a more conducive setting.

As motorists will not be able to drive their vehicles into Orchard Road during Pedestrian Night, it is important to ensure that MRT train services are sufficiently increased to meet the expected crowds. Additional MRT staff must also be deployed for crowd control, in the event of train breakdowns.

Organisers of Pedestrian Night need to work closely with the MRT management, Traffic Police and Land Transport Authority to make it a success.

Raymond Anthony Fernando

Friday, September 26, 2014

How to improve medication compliance- Raymond Anthony Fernando’s letter to the press

My letter on the above subject is published today in The Straits Times, Friday 26th September 2014.

I agree that compliance with medication and a good doctor-patient rapport help keep patients in a stable condition ("Patients don't always know best"; last Saturday).

There are complex reasons for non-compliance with the medication regimen. This is why family caregivers must be involved and have a proper understanding of the illness and medication regimen - the dosage, benefits and side effects, so they can monitor the patient properly.

Patients often forget to take their medication. So caregivers can make taking it part of the daily routine.

For example, the medication can be placed on the dinner table alongside supplements that other family members take regularly.

An alarm clock can be used to remind patients to take their medication, if the dosage is more frequent.

Lastly, packing the pills in containers with the date and time for consumption helps caregivers check that the medication has been taken correctly.

For patients who do not want to be reminded of their mental illness, caregivers can ask the doctor for injectable medication every few weeks.

Raymond Anthony Fernando


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Death and dying: Read Raymond's letter to the press: Letter to The New Paper: Let’s be open about end-of-life issues

My letter on the above matter is published today –Tuesday 23rd September 2014, in The New Paper.

The exhibition Both Sides, Now presented by the Lien Foundation and the Ang Chin Moh Foundation, is a good attempt to get people to talk about death and dying, as reported in “Would you take my obituary shot?” (The New Paper, Sept 20).

Death is something we will all have to face to face sooner or later, but we may not understand it.  And people tend to be afraid of what they do not understand.

It may also be a touchy topic, so we may not raise it for fear of offending someone.

But if we are open about it, we can talk about it in a practical and rational manner.

Our loved ones can spend their last days differently if they are fully aware that they are not alone, and that they are loved and valued till their last breath.

In reaching out to Singaporeans in the heartlands in Khatib and Toa Payoh Central, the organisers hope to capture a wider spectrum of the public.   But not everyone, especially the elderly who are less mobile, can make their way to the exhibitions. 

So it would be good if our broadcasters could have TV forums and radio shows on end -of-life issues to compliment the exhibition.

Counsellors, doctors in palliative care and relatives who are coping with the loss of a loved one could participate.

As most of elderly citizens tend to embrace a faith in their final journey, broadcasters could also invite religious leaders to participate in these programmes.  

Also, as our Chinese dramas have a large following; it would be helpful if the topic is covered in a positive way in such productions.



Thursday, September 18, 2014

Reward 'role model' maids and their employers: Raymond Anthony Fernando's letter to the press

Letter to The Straits Times: Reward 'role model' maids and their employers

My letter to the Straits Times on the above subject is published today, Thursday 18th September 2014.

It is disturbing to learn of the latest maid abuse case (“3 more months’ jail for ‘relentless tormentor’ of maid”; last Thursday).

Another report (“Myanmar imposes temporary ban on maids to Singapore”; last Saturday) said the Myanmar government has temporarily barred its women from working as maids in Singapore because of concerns over abuse.

Such reports do not put us in a good light, even though most employers here treat their maids reasonably well.

Given that Singaporeans depend heavily on their maids to provide much-needed support, it is vital to build cordial working relationships between maids and their employers.

To this end, I propose that a reward scheme for “role model” maids and employers be put in place by the Ministry of Manpower.  Up to five winners each year would be rewarded with cash and sponsored holidays, providing an excellent opportunity for families to take their maids with them on a well-deserved break.

Such a scheme would not only recognise outstanding maids and their employers, but also spur others to emulate them.

Raymond Anthony Fernando



Monday, September 15, 2014

Raymond Anthony Fernando's wife's passing; What happened? He writes to the press

My beloved Doris who died on the eve of Maundy Thursday –17th April 2014 is now safe in Heaven for the Lord will care for her – unconditionally, as I have for 40 years.  Jesus has plans for all of His children and He has special love for the mentally ill, and that is documented in the Bible.  
Strange coincidence: I met Doris 40 years on Good Friday, she died on the eve of Good Friday, and she was born on All Saints Day.   In Heaven, my wife will have no more suffering from illnesses and no more prejudices from her mental illness, which psychiatric patients face every day in their lonely and isolated lives. 
Nonetheless, I need to share my pain, and hopefully others in a similar condition who come after Doris will not suffer the same fate.
There must be a better way to manage the psychiatric conditions of patients like my wife. She was taking more about 27.5 tranquillizers a day to manage her schizophrenia, and overnight, all these medications were taken away – resulting in a complete shock of her mind, and then she could not talk to me in her dying days.  How does it feel to lose a loved one when you cannot even talk to her in her last days?  For my wife to ask for her dying wishes and say her last words to me?
When I was caring for Doris, even if one tablet was reduced, I could see her schizophrenia relapse coming on. Imagine taking away ALL her medications.  
There are things in life which we will never be able to understand, and this is just one of them.  I can understand that Doris will die one day, but I am troubled by the circumstances that led to her untimely demise.
There needs to be better collaborations between specialists and psychiatrists – to save and reclaim every life.
As I read about the mother who has been charged with the murder of her 7-year-old autistic son, I am deeply troubled that the caregiver support system here is so weak.  Here one life has been lost, and another hangs in the balance. It is really tough caring for a loved one with special needs, and it is not that I have not been voicing out these concerns in the press.  
So now, read my letter to the press and the hospital’s reply. 
Raymond Anthony Fernando
Raymond Anthony Fernando’s dies suddenly, he writes to the press: “Better care needed, for death with dignity”
My letter to MediaCorp’s Today newspaper was published on Monday 15th September 2014.
It is important that sensitivity and care are offered to those who are trying to cope with end-of-life issues.
My late wife, who was admitted to Tan Tock Seng Hospital in April for pneumonia, was asked to undergo a colonography a few weeks before. The next day, big rashes appeared on her shins, stomach, chest and feet.
I was upset with the radiology staff and doctors, who kept apologising.
After my wife was referred to the National Skin Centre, doctors there opined that the rashes had erupted because of the Humira injection my wife was receiving every fortnight for her arthritis. Her rashes remained for two weeks.
She died three weeks later or so after her immune system broke down and could not fight the bacteria that invaded her body.
She was exposed to several infections during her multiple visits to TTSH, and when she was admitted for pneumonia, the doctors took away her psychiatric medications. They claimed it was lowering her blood pressure.
I told them my wife was sure to suffer a relapse of her schizophrenia if they take that route. Shortly afterwards, as expected, she suffered a serious relapse, leading to the loss of her speech. She died without dignity.
To add insult to injury, no palliative care was given. Instead, as she was in her final stages, doctors from the infection control unit queried insensitively whether my wife had travelled outside Singapore.
Others in a similar condition should not suffer the same fate.
And TTSH replies: Hospital to be more mindful of next of kin’s needs
We offer our deepest condolences to Mr Raymond Fernando on the passing of his wife, Madam Lau, who had a complex medical history. (“Better care needed, for death with dignity”; Sept 15, online).
When she suffered pain from her arthritis flare last September, our doctor restarted her Humira injections and her condition improved, although her arthritis remained active.
Six months later, when she developed rashes suddenly on her legs, she was seen by our allergist and was subsequently referred to the National Skin Centre for further opinion.
On April 8, Mdm Lau was admitted urgently; she was suffering from septic shock. Our doctors, in consultation with her psychiatrist from the Institute of Mental Health, withheld her schizophrenia medications temporarily to treat this more critical condition safely first.
During this period, our psychiatry team monitored her closely with the medical team. Mr Fernando had been updated on her condition and management plans throughout by the psychiatrist and medical team.
As Mdm Lau remained critically ill, extent of care plans were discussed at length with Mr Fernando. He shared with our doctors what would have been her preferred option.
Hence, the decision was for maximal general ward management with appropriate antibiotics, intravenous fluids and inotropic support. Her condition continued to deteriorate, and she died on April 17. Mr Fernando is understandably still grieving.
Throughout his wife’s stay at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, our medical teams had cared for her very closely and appropriately. We apologise if our doctors appeared insensitive in their attempt to obtain a thorough medical history during this difficult period.
We will strive to be more mindful of the needs and feelings of our patients’ next of kin. We will stay engaged with Mr Fernando and offer him support.
Chin Jing Jih, Associate Professor, Acting Chairman, Medical Board, Tan Tock Seng Hospital

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Prank on autistic teen cruel: Raymond Anthony Fernando writes to the press

My letter on the above subject is published in The Straits Times “Life Section (Page E7) today, Saturday 13th September 2014.

The humiliating prank by high-school students in Ohio, the United States, who allegedly poured a bucket of urine, faeces and spit on an autistic teen is shocking and totally unacceptable (Stars Offer Reward For Info About Prank;  Life! Sept 10).

People with special needs such as autism must be protected from cruel acts, and I am glad that celebrities such as comedian Drew Carey, actress Jenny McCarthy and her husband, New Kid On The Block member Donnie Wahlberg, have stepped forward with rewards to detect the culprits.


Raymond Anthony Fernando 


Monday, September 8, 2014

NTUC FairPrice: Raymond's letter to The Straits Times: Enhance grocery delivery service to serve those in

I speak out passionately for the mentally ill, the elderly, the sick and the disabled, and this letter to the Straits Times proves it, and that is what makes for a dedicated & tireless advocate.

Letter to The Straits Times: Enhance grocery delivery service to serve those in

My letter to the Straits Times on the above matter is published on Monday 8th September 2014.

NTUC FairPrice’s online shopping service is a good effort that can help reduce queues at its supermarkets (“Order online, pick up at FairPrice outlet”; last Thursday).

While this service, which will allow customers to buy items online and then collect them at a designated booth, is convenient for younger people, there are elderly folk, caregivers and the disabled community whose special needs have to be considered.

Given that Singapore has a rapidly ageing population, with many of our seniors having mobility problems, I urge FairPrice to retain its home delivery service, with some enhancements.

There should also be a dedicated hotline for seniors, caregivers and the disabled to call to place orders as some of them may not be Internet-savvy or have access to computers.

Currently, delivery services are priced at $7 for $60 or more worth of groceries.  Given that some of these special needs citizens may not be too well-off, I urge FairPrice to consider allowing purchases of $30 to $50 to qualify for such a service, as people in this category need to be prudent in their spending.

FairPrice may also want to consider introducing a daily hot-meal service for these people – a wheels-on-meals service that can provide healthy, tasty meals to suit the needs of these citizens.

Raymond Anthony Fernando


Friday, September 5, 2014

Great care from polyclinic doctors: Raymond Anthony Fernando's letter to the press

My letter to The Straits Times on the above matter is published today, Friday 5th September 2014.

I wish to highlight the wonderful support that three doctors in Ang Mo Kio Polyclinic have given to me and my late wife.

Dr Karen Ng, the head of the polyclinic, went out of her way to ensure I was given quality care.

Recently, when I urgently needed to see a doctor for severe shoulder pain, she replied to me promptly though she was on long overseas leave, and directed her staff to ensure I got an appointment without having to wait too long.

She empathises with me knowing that I have lost my wife, who also benefited from the excellent care by Dr Ng and two other doctors – Dr Christopher Chong and Dr Manoj – when she was alive.

These doctors did not discriminate against my mentally ill wife, but instead gave her encouragement, sound advice and treatment that made our polyclinic visits a breeze.

While I was struggling with insomnia after my wife’s death, Dr Chong comforted me and promptly referred me to a psychologist, so that I can slowly overcome the severe grief I am experiencing.

Singapore needs doctors like them, who can show empathy and are willing to go the extra mile for patients.

Raymond Anthony Fernando



Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Look beyond financial help - Raymond Anthony Fernando's letter to The Straits Times (ST)

My letter to The ST gets published today, Tuesday 2nd Sept 2014.

I agree with the views expressed by social workers and academics on older Singaporeans who fall through the cracks despite the social policies in place (" 'Widen net of support scheme for seniors' "; Aug 20).

Thus, the new Silver Support scheme for the elderly poor is timely, given that many in this group would no longer be working and could do with some financial support.

Former Nominated MP Kanwaljit Soin has suggested that each Singapore resident over the age of 65 be given a monthly old age allowance of $200 ("Celebrate old age too with 'Silver Bonus' "; last Wednesday).

But what about those who are widowed and have no children to look after them in their old age? These people are isolated and require a network of support measures to see them through their remaining years.

There should be befrienders services as well as monthly flat cleaning services by volunteers, to help this group.

By keeping in close contact with these needy folk, we can ensure they do not succumb to depression and lose the will to live.

Raymond Anthony Fernando