Mt Elizabeth Novena Hospital

Last week when I injured my back, I headed to Gleneagles Hospital, which is the closest hospital to my condo.  Once it became clear I needed to be admitted, though, I ended up at Mount Elizabeth Novena.  Mt. E Novena is a sister hospital, and was the only one with a private room available.  Strange as this may sound, I loved it and not just because I was very high on painkillers.

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Mount Elizabeth Novena (which I’m going to abbreviate to MEN) is a really new hotel-less than a year old.  According to their website, it’s the first new private hospital to be build in 30 years.  It is the first hospital in SG to have only single rooms-206 standard single rooms, 37 deluxe rooms, 8 junior suites, and 3 regal suites (plus some day surgery beds and ICU).  I don’t think I have to sell anyone on why a single room is preferable, if you have a choice in the matter.

MEN’s approach to creating a new hospital is the somewhat cheesy, if accurate, idea of a hospitel–a cross between a hospital and a hotel.  I’d mock it, except that half the time that I mentioned my hospital, I would slip and call it my hotel or my hotel room.

MEN amenities

For one, the bathroom comes stocked with Crabtree and Evelyn “La source” products-shampoo, conditioner, mouthwash, and bodywash.  They also provide you with a hairbrush (a pretty decent one, actually-I forgot mine and my hair was really tangled–it was strong enough to actually get through the tangles, which is better than most hotel furnished ones will), a tooth brush and toothpaste, and a few other amenities I didn’t take advantage of.

The bathroom itself is large.  The shower has bars if you need help standing (as I did a bit) and a seat if that makes showering easier.  Lots of hot water.  They provide you with washcloths, hand towels, and bath sheet sized towels (and there’s a hamper under the sink for them when you’re done).  There are several emergency pull strings in case of an accident or need for help.

My room was very large.  There was the bed, a very large sofa, which if you removed the back cushions became a proper bed.  There was a chair by the couch.  One wall had a counter running the length of it which also served as a desk (with a chair) as well as counter space for your stuff.  There was a large wall mounted flat screen tv (which in theory also had internet connections-I never turned it on, preferring my laptop).  The room had a safe (which I didn’t use, but noted).

The two nicest parts, I thought, was that there was a built in fridge behind a door (it’s actually a minibar, but you can take out their stuff and put your own stuff in, which I did), and the internet speed.  They have extremely fast wi-fi, which was awesome.  It was actually fast enough that I was able to download some movies and tv off iTunes to keep occupied.  My only issue with it was that it occasionally just stops and you have to reconnect, which only really became a hassle when I was trying to skype (it would shut off and I’d lose the connection).

MEN hallway

The doors to the room are soundproofed so you don’t get ambient noise.  As most people kept their doors closed, it also made walking through the halls (part of my back rehab plan) a quiet and pleasant experience.

In terms of service-they have a wide menu but I didn’t want any part of anything on it.  Although there are western options, they are more European than American.  There’s a cafeteria, which Ravi told me was more of the same kind of fail (no sandwich bar, no pizza bar, etc).  Apart from that, there’s only a Starbucks in the hospital.  Luckily it’s across the street from Novena Square (which connects to Velocity and is a quick walk from United Square) and Ravi kept me in American food between delivering food to me and supply groceries from the Cold Storage at United Square.

They also have “butlers” who were sweet enough to get the crazy ang moh pitchers of ice water instead of the “healthier” warm water that is standard.  They also delivered a Straits Times Daily.  The ladies who cleaned the rooms were also all sweet-there were two ladies who did our floor and I chatted with them about their kids and mine (who were of similar age).

MEN nurses

The nurses were also a bunch of sweethearts.  They were quick to respond to a call, but tried not to impose too much, allowing patients their privacy.  Once they met my girls, they asked after them and made a point to say hello when my own little Nurse Ellie took me for my walk through the halls (sometimes accompanies by the mini-nurse Rhiannon and their Dad).  They were quick to dispense pain meds when I needed them, and let me delay the same pain meds as I began to heal (rather than insisting they stick to a strict schedule with them).

The only real complaint I had is that the billing department didn’t really seem to have their act together when it came to contacting my insurance.  We were told there were delays in getting reports, and then they needed my signature, but didn’t realize it, and so forth.  I was on the phone back and forth with my insurance agency a LOT trying to figure out what they needed so that they could send the promise of payment.  Further, the billing department didn’t seem to have an accurate understanding of my diagnosis and the estimate they gave Ravi was more than double what my cost actually was.  But things seemed to be settled by the time I left, although I still need to check with our insurance company to make sure that everything was properly submitted and paid for.

Overall, I’d say that my stay was as pleasant as it could be.  Obviously, I was in a lot of pain, and I wish I hadn’t had to be hospitalized at all.  I’m going to have an ongoing relationship with the hospital as I’m there 3x a week for physical therapy right now, and I’ll be following up with the orthopedic doctor regarding treatment for my back as the healing process begins.

I’m not in constant pain anymore, although my range of motion is limited and my stamina sucks.  I can walk, but I can’t pick up stuff–even my purse (having lightened it and everything) is a bit heavy at times.  I’m not allowed to pick up either girl, even just to pick up Rhi to change her diaper.  Ellie has been a huge help-I can’t really bend down and look for stuff, so E has gotten my shoes, retrieved stuff out of the fridge and so forth for me  My in-laws arrived yesterday and will be here as long as we need them, which is a huge relief.

It’s difficult and frustrating to be so limited, but I know from experience that it is crucial I take care of my back.  I had back surgery in 06, and the disc that is damaged now is the disc directly above it-both are now totally degenerated.  I know that if I push too hard too fast I’ll just end up right back in the hospital, and if I don’t take my recovery seriously I’ll likely further damage my back as well.  So I am going slow and steady and following my doctor and pt’s advice.

At some point I’ll talk about how insurance here differs from the process of insurance and such in the US, but I’ve been thinking a lot about my assimilation series and I want to get back to that for now.

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