Is it a just a bad cough or something more sinister that could result in hospitalisation for your child? Just two weeks before his second birthday, our roving toddler reporter Elliott got acute bronchitis and was warded for a week at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
“Elliott ended up in hospital two weeks before his second birthday. He had been coughing and wheezing. I thought he had asthma so I brought him to see a general practitioner. Elliott did not want to be nebulised so we came home with a bunch of meds, and decided to let the cough run its course. But his wheezing did not get better and his appetite got worse. Then on Thursday, he refused all food.
We went to his favourite soccer class but he ended up sitting on my lap most of the time. Usually he would be running all over the field. I brought him for his favourite kiddy meal but he wouldn’t even take a bite. I packed his meal to have a little picnic in front of his favourite fountain. He also refused. So we headed home.
I gave him a bath and his milk, but he had trouble falling asleep. I decided to bring him to the hospital to be nebulised so that he could have a good night’s sleep. At this point I was a little worried, but I did not think the cough was anything serious. I figured we’d be home by midnight. Perhaps it’s mummy’s intuition, but I also packed one extra set of clothes for each of us, and a puzzle for Elliott. He was pretty excited at the thought of “Going Out” again.
The A&E was crowded. After waiting for a while Elliott got his temperature and his weight checked, his blood drawn, his blood oxygen levels checked, and an X-ray. He was also neubulised — finally!
My most panicky moment was when they had to put an IV line in his hand (for medication and in case he needed a drip since he wasn’t eating), because Elliott hates needles. The nurses ushered me out and drew the curtains. I could hear Elliott screaming and crying and I think there were six nurses holding him down. When it was over the nurses emerged like they had just fought a battle and said to me, “Your son very strong.” I thought that was quite funny then.
It was 9.30 pm when the doctor saw him and told us that Elliott had to stay in the hospital because of his wheezing and low blood oxygen level. He had Acute Bronchitis.
Our First Night in a 5-Bedded Ward
I had no idea what to expect. Could I stay with him? Would insurance cover this? I sent a message to our insurance agent even though it was late. He replied immediately and said that Elliott could stay in a single bed suite.
Unfortunately, none were available then so we went to a five-bedded ward instead. It wasn’t too bad. There was air con, a TV set, and curtains for privacy. The ward was also very clean and the nurses were patient and wonderful. They even provided a small foldable bed for one caregiver.
The nurses came every two hours or when Elliott’s oxygen levels fell (the machine would beep and they would have to adjust his oxygen mask) to check on him, gave him his meds, and nebulise him.
The nurses modified the mask so that it would stay on without the strap. Because of that the mask would fall off every time Elliott moved. I had to stay awake all night to adjust it for him. If his blood oxygen level fell below 90 the machine would beep insanely.
I had a shock the first time that happened. But by the second day it was like a routine: beep, get up, adjust mask. Elliott slept through the beeping; he got so used to it. I slept through some of the beeps because I was so tired. The nurses would come in to adjust the mask for Elliott.
I didn’t mind the five-bedded room but it was very disruptive at night as every child (they were between two and five years old) would take turns to wake up and cry. So Elliott would be fussing and crying with the other four kids.
The family of the child in the bed next to us had what seemed like a gathering-cum-picnic the entire day. They took all the chairs in the ward to their bed, and the whole ward smelt of food and it was noisy. By 8 am in the morning, it’s time to keep the foldable bed so for the caregiver, it can be tiring. You don’t get enough sleep at night, and you’re sitting all day the next day. I was happy when we could finally move to our own suite.
The Class A Ward: A Single Bed Suite
We shifted to Ward A on our third day. The new suite was beautiful. It didn’t look like a hospital room at all. There was a sofa bed for the caregiver, as well as a private toilet. This made it so much more convenient when relatives visited. My family was very impressed with the suite. It was very private and cozy, and sound proof. You don’t hear any commotion from the other rooms at all. There was also more space for Elliott to roam around in, and cabinet doors for him to open and close.
The environment here was warm and cosy, and less clinical. There was beautiful art by KKheART — the art-making support group for cancer survivors from KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital — on the walls.
The nurses and doctors and even the cleaners at this ward were delightful. They were so friendly and kind and patient. One night we had to change Elliott’s sheets three times in two hours because he woke up and cried till he threw up. Then there was urine all over the bed because his diapers leaked, so we had to change the sheets a third time. Elliott would cry every time a medical staff came in, but they were very patient and gentle, and would comfort him.
Toys and Games for Children to Play with
By day three Elliott had to be on a drip as he wasn’t eating at all. Not even ice cream! I tried giving him his favourite foods: ice cream, waffles, and fresh milk. He refused them all. On days three to five, when Elliott had his drip on, we were pretty much confined to the ward. Thank goodness there was lots to entertain him with here.
There was a large sitting area outside, with toddler-friendly toys and kiddy rides. Elliott was excited because he could ‘drive’ a Little Tikes toy car around the ward. He loved opening and closing the car doors too.
So I would push him around the ward in the toy car. He also hung out in the seating area to play with the toys and look at books at the cosy little reading nook. This area also had a panel of windows where Elliott loved to stand at and look at vehicles, especially the cars and trucks passing by outside.
Other Hospital Amenities that We Like
We had pretty good food options but Elliott did not like any of them. I believe Grandma’s delicious cooking has made him a picky little twerp! But there are a lot of cafes and a nice big food court and even a MacDonalds outlet downstairs so we could easily buy other food for him to eat. The first thing he ate (after four days of not touching any food at all) was a waffle from Prima Deli. It was such a relief!
There was also a little pond at basement one where you can feed the fish. Elliott enjoyed this. (You can buy fish food from a dispenser machine there.)
The Longest-staying Child in the Ward
We ended up staying for a week. Elliott was the longest-staying kid in the ward. We were so happy when the doctor said that he could go home! Elliott said “bye bye” and blew flying kisses to all the medical staff. We also gave them a box of cake to thank them for everything they had done to keep us comfortable during our stay.
Two weeks later, on Elliott’s birthday, a cheque of $1,750 from our insurance provider came. Our entire hospital bill — almost $6,000 — was covered by insurance. Because we went to a public hospital, we received $250 per day for each day we stayed in the Class A ward. If we had stayed in the Class C ward, it would have been a larger amount. I cannot emphasise how important it is to protect your child (and yourself) well with insurance.
Why I Would Choose to Come to this Hospital Again
I hope your child never has to stay in a hospital for any reason. But if there’s a need to, I would absolutely recommend KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
As the largest children’s and women’s hospital in Singapore, it has all the necessary amenities to treat any paediatric problem. In case of such an emergency, KK would have the most up to date machines, treatments, and specialists. You would not have to transfer to another hospital. Because it is a public hospital, we can get excellent care and good doctors at a lower rate than private hospitals, with equal comfort. Service was equally excellent whether we were in the Class A or the Class C ward. In fact, when we went to the suite, we kind of missed the nurses in the five-bedded ward even though the doctors and the nurses in the single-bedder wards were equally warm and kind.
Care-wise, I always felt that Elliott was in good hands. The nurses and doctors were gentle with him and knew what to do to help him feel better. They were not the ‘touch-and-go’ kind of doctors and nurses. They would linger to talk and play with Elliott even though all he wanted to do was wave and kiss good bye to them, haha. The staff was so diligent I even felt assured enough to leave Elliott with them for a few hours at night to go out and buy his favourite milk. I never had any doubt at all that Elliott was getting the best care and treatment he could have while we were there.”