NGO’s transit homes a haven for poor hospital patients, families


KUALA LUMPUR: People who have spent time accompanying or caring for their loved ones admitted to hospital would know it is far from being a comfortable experience.

This is especially the case for the poor who live far from a hospital, as basic needs such as sleeping or bathing become a luxury.

The Malaysian Association of Medical Social Officers Services felt this matter needed to be addressed and embarked on a mission to provide transit homes for patients and their loved ones eight years ago.

In March 1995, the NGO started its first transit home to help poor outstation patients seeking treatment at Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL) and their loved ones accompanying them.

It started off by renting five units at the Pekeliling Flats in Jalan Pahang and this number grew over the years.

When the Pekeliling Flats were demolished in 2007, the association moved the transit homes to the Desa Rejang public housing project, where they rented 10 apartments from the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to be used as transit homes.

The units are located 10km from the hospital but are accessible by public transport. There is also a shuttle service to and from the hospital once a day.

HKL Department of Medical Social Work Officer Zulhan Ambi told FMT that the association now runs two other transit homes in Ipoh and Muar.

The one in Kuala Lumpur caters mostly to patients who come from far-away states such as Sabah, Sarawak, Kelantan and Terengganu.

Zulhan explained that each apartment had three rooms and could accommodate five people.

Each of the apartments are fully furnished and have running water, electricity, fans, a television set, refrigerator, microwave and rice cooker, among others.

“This is how we can offer more help to the patients. We set a voluntary RM5 ‘contribution’ fee if people can afford it,

“If they cannot, it’s okay, they do not have to pay. Sometimes, some patients even contribute RM50 or RM100.”

Zulhan said patients and their loved ones who wanted to stay at the transit homes would have to get a recommendation from their doctor at HKL.

“Each patient or their loved ones are allowed to stay for two weeks. After that, they can seek an extension, but most of them usually stay just for a few days.”

Zulhan said the association carried out a lot of networking activities and was also sourcing for more sponsors for the transit homes and shuttle services.

“We have a van which was donated to us by the Yayasan Habib, but we still need to pay for the drivers, fuel and maintenance.”

At present, the transit homes are also being supported by the Malaysian Medical Welfare Fund, Habib Foundation, Sabah State Liaison Office, Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council and the Selangor Zakat Centre.