Gleneagles Hospital waives security guard’s bills, family to pass funds raised to next needy person

It's the right thing to do, for one of its own employees.

By Guan Zhen Tan | October 13, 2017

Thomas Lukose is a security guard at Gleneagles who collapsed from a heart attack while on duty on Sep. 12.

After seeking immediate treatment at the hospital he was working for, the 55-year-old’s family, cognisant of the high costs at Gleneagles, tried to have him transferred to Singapore General Hospital (SGH), where his stay would be significantly cheaper.

However, with no beds available at SGH’s coronary care unit (CCU), they were unable to do so. Add that to Lukose being in an unstable condition, keeping him waiting for an operation would put his life at greater risk, and his family eventually made the call to proceed with his triple-bypass operation.

By this point, however, Lukose’s hospital bill had then increased to S$78,000, an amount too hefty for his family to cough up within a short time.

Only S$13,500 of this amount was covered by his work insurance.

Encouraging reception

The family then turned to crowdfunding site GIVE.Asia to raise funds to defray the cost of the bill, and Lukose’s story garnered much online attention. As of writing, S$24,536.90 had been raised for him:

Screenshot via Thomas Needs Urgent Help To Save His Life’s GIVE.Asia’s Facebook page

A Straits Times piece by senior health correspondent Salma Khalik also addressed his case, mentioning the need for insurance and policies to move toward being more portable, in cases like Lukose’s where they had to seek emergency treatment at a nearby private hospital because of the urgency of the situation.

“It would have been terrible if his family had insisted on moving him to the NHCS (National Heart Centre Singapore) in spite of his unstable condition and the doctor’s advice. They did the right thing. Unfortunately, they now have to pay heavily for that decision.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong promised ‘peace of mind’ with MediShield Life, and this is an instance in which the system can show it is able to deal with anomalies, and give families comfort.

The Lukose family should not need to resort to crowdfunding to raise the money to pay his hospital bill. Such incidents should also not be treated on a case-by-case basis, where someone decides whether a helping hand should be extended.

If a patient is unable to get the subsidised care he opts for, for reasons accepted as valid by the public institution, he should be allowed to pay what he would have as a subsidised patient.”

Gleneagles is, alongside Mount Elizabeth, Mount Elizabeth Novena and Parkway East hospitals, under the Singapore-based Parkway Pentai Group, which also runs hospitals in Malaysia, Brunei, Hong Kong, the UAE and India.

Thankfully, and perhaps thanks to the online and media attention his case got, the healthcare group’s Acting CEO Phua Tien Beng spoke up in a letter to The Straits Times forum, dated Friday, Oct 13, saying they would waive the remainder of his bills.

Lukose’s family has accepted the gesture, and has opted to donate the money they raised to the next patient there who might be in need.

Here’s his letter:

I want to thank everyone for their concern for Mr Thomas Lukose, one of our security guards at Gleneagles Hospital.

Thomas received timely and expert care from our doctors and staff when he suffered a heart attack at the hospital. We are very glad that he has made an excellent recovery and is now recuperating at home.

Ms Salma Khalik’s commentary (Allow subsidised rates for patients who opt for but can’t get such care; Oct 11) carried a suggestion that the hospital considers waiving the remainder of Thomas’ hospital bills not covered by insurance and MediShield Life.

Having reviewed the case, we have decided that the hospital should cover his outstanding medical bills.

It is the right thing to do. We regret the anxiety caused.

We have informed Thomas and his family of our offer. They have accepted our help and very generously diverted the money raised through crowdfunding to the next person in need.

Phua Tien Beng
Acting Chief Executive Officer
Singapore Operations Division
Parkway Pantai

Kudos to Lukose and his family for making such a generous decision to a needy person who urgently requires financial aid, and tot he hospital too, for doing the right thing for one of its own employees.

Here’s wishing him a speedy recovery, and that his story may prompt policymakers to reflect on how they can make their rules more flexible in times of need.

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Top image via Thomas Needs Urgent Help To Save His Life’s GIVE.Asia’s Facebook page

About Guan Zhen Tan

Guan Zhen is a serial doodler with multiple pens with her wherever she goes. She loves listening to Visual Kei bands, Jamiroquai and random songs from the future-funk genre.

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