Friday, January 22, 2010

SGH Museum

A few months ago, I accompanied a relative to the Singapore General Hospital. It was during the peak of the H1N1 scare. To avoid the hassle of temperature taking and so on, I decided to take a walk around the hospital grounds instead of waiting indoors. And I stumbled upon the SGH Museum.

Actually, I was quite disappointed with the exhibits inside. A large section of the museum was closed off and some of the major exhibits were undergoing renovation. The rest of the exhibits were mostly about the pioneers of the health care industry and old medical equipment; the latter being too technical to interest me. However I did see something that brought back memories. They were the hypodermic needles of old. In those days, they did not use disposable hypodermic needles. Instead the needles had a stainless steel base which was mounted onto the syringe. To sterilize the needles, the nurse would use a stainless steel tray with hot water. As a kid, whenever we heard the clanging of the metallic tray, we knew what to expect.

Looking at some of the old photos of the SGH complex, I realized how much the hospital has been transformed since the 1980’s when I occasionally brought my mum there for visits. I also recall one occasion when I accompanied my brother Chun Chew (Zen) there because he swallowed this huge fish bone. I will leave him to fill in the details for himself. Practically all the old blocks had been demolished except for the Bowyer Block which now housed the SGH Museum. In those days, all the blocks had English-sounding names; but I can remember only two - Bowyer and Norris. I think the Norris Block housed the dental department. And then of course there are the two roundabouts that I blogged about here.

This is a shot of the Bowyer Block with its iconic clock tower

Thankfully, I never had to stay in SGH as a patient before. Actually I do not like going to the SGH. Usually I go there to visit friends and relatives. It’s not that I am superstitious or afraid of coming into contact with diseases. I really dislike the crowds and finding a car park is such a hassle.


peter said...

Hypodermic needle i also terrified. The glass tube section so thick. the frightening part is to see the doctor squeeze some liquid out of the needle (to test if working) before injection. Some liquid invariably land on my arms. When I visit the dentist, I grabbed the dentist chair handles tightly. When I visit the GP, I close my eyes.

yg said...

chun see, your talk about medical exam of the past brings to mind the 'undignified' medical test we were all subjected to when we were in school. what was the purpose of the test in which the nurse or doctor make us take off our 'hings' and cough. i think it was the scrotum they looked at for some sign of a medical problem.

Brian and Tess said...

yg - I think what they always looked for were signs of un-descended testicles, the coughing has something to do with that!

As for hospitals I often tell people of the excellent A&E treatment I got at Changi General - absolutely first class!

bali resorts said...

I always like to read about the museums of different places of the world. Because I love to know about history and culture of the world.

Zen said...

Chun See wrote in his blog story that he accompanied me to SGH years ago because I swallowed a large fish bone which stuck in my throat. His account is not correct. Maybe he visited me with my parents when I was hospitalised. Actually the one who accompanied me to SGH was my senior officer Raj and I am thankful to him for his kindness. I was then working in Sembawang Port, work was intense on that fateful day when I bought I packet of nasi padang from our canteen and started eating it, meanwhile still attending to phone calls. It was the scant attention I paid to eating the fish that landed me with this nasty accident. After this accident, my colleagues laughed at me saying sarcastically that the port would not award me with a gold medal for working that hard. I had to wait the whole afternoon till late at the night before the surgeon removed the large bone from my throat using anesthetic and breathing apparatus. The long wait was due to many patients in the A&E ward. After this incident, I have a phobia in eating fish and my family usually warned me before I raise my chopsticks to any fish that have bones. On the hindsight, I should have sung the song 'Oh Carol' - why? PSA had already contracted Federal Clinic in Ocean Tower to treat emergency cases and the clinic had all the necessary surgical equipment and doctors to remove my fish bone and there was no need for me to go to SGH, even my snr officer Raj, in panic, forgot this fact. So as the song goes...Oh Carol, I am but a fool...could aptly apply to me.

chew said...

About the needles. I remember getting my BCG shots.

How it happens in primary six was you line up and the nurse will use the same needle for up to about six kids before changing.

If you are the first in the series of six you can expect more pain. The needle is BBQ'ed over a lighted candle before each shot. And the first of six shots is BBQ'ed more than the rest.

When I noticed this, I'd jumped the queue to position myself not to be the first of a series.