My Grandma’s Health Became Critical After Following MOH’s Advice

An old woman with Covid-19 suffered an ordeal because of MOH’s flawed policies. The 80 year old needs regular dialysis. She recently tested positive for Covid-19, which means she could not go to her usual dialysis centre. MOH advised her to go to A&E but did not make any arrangements to treat her until her condition became critical.


  • 4 Feb: Old woman tested positive for Covid-19.
  • 5 Feb: Due for dialysis but MOH did not arrange for it. Told her to go to A&E.
  • 6 Feb: Old woman went to Sengkang General Hospital. Had mild Covid-19 symptoms and needed dialysis.
  • 7 Feb: Continued to wait in A&E due to insufficient beds. Fell and fractured her pelvis. No arrangement for dialysis. Grandson suggested to go elsewhere with more dialysis capacity but MOH rejected it. He said: “The MOH officer seems reluctant to liaise with the hospital to have my grandma do dialysis”.
  • 8 Feb: Old woman’s renal panel values were deranged and needed urgent dialysis. Sent to high dependency unit.
  • 9 Feb: Finally completed her dialysis. Had low oxygen levels and could not leave the high dependency unit. Put on oxygen and given antiviral. Grandson claimed she will have side effects of temporary liver damage.

If not already apparent, my grandma seems to be suffering unnecessarily due to bureaucratic red tape, expediency and inefficiencies. It doesn’t help that she is illiterate, hard of hearing, doesn’t own a handphone, and speaks only Hokkien and some Mandarin. I hope she survives the ordeal, if not it will be ironically a Covid-related death.

MOH failed in its duty. Instead of helping the old woman, it caused her to feel worse. After everything, her grandson found out that there are other places where she could have gone for dialysis. So why did MOH not arrange for it? Why tell her to go to A&E, where the staff are already swarmed?

Now, the old woman have problems moving around due to her fractured pelvis. She would have felt better if she did not follow MOH.

Given that this is not the first day of the pandemic, why do we seem to have a gap in the protocol for handling Covid dialysis patients? It is incredulous and disconcerting that since skipping dialysis is a potentially life-threatening condition, MOH has failed to provide clarity and concrete instructions to ensure that the dialysis needs of my grandma remain undisrupted.

Having grandma in a condition that was worse than before in avoidable circumstances is a terrible outcome.

Dear MOH and Minister Ong Ye Kung, I write this with a heavy heart. Despite knowing that we have many folks (frontliners) with their hearts in the right place, I am afraid that I am losing faith in our public health system’s fight against Covid.