A VISIT TO A HOSPITAL IN BANGKOK IN THE ERA OF COVID-19
I am 72, a regular visitor at Ramathibodi Hospital in Bangkok. As a two-year bladder cancer survivor with a few other health issues common to an elderly person I find my hospital visit a norm of life. That is until the arrival of the Novel Corona Virus Diseases in 2019. I have happily retired from a long, exciting, active, and fulfilling public life as a political scientist, television journalist, documentary producer, a drafter of the 1997 constitution, and a one-term senator. During the two years following my bladder cancer operation in 2018 I am required to undergo update check-ups every 3 to 4 months. These involve blood and urine tests, ultrasound, x-ray, and cystoscopy. I also have prostatitis which requires regular administration of a drug called Uroflo. My hernia inflammation now needs an operation. Not to be outdone, in 2015 I met with a deadly car accident where I came out with all kinds of broken bones and one full year of convalescence. All these medical issues combined make my visit to the hospital in the era of COVID-19 all the more challenging.
Ramathibodi Hospital of Mahidol University is among Thailand's most advanced and well-equipped hospitals. It is a public hospital which means it costs less than private hospitals but the healthcare facilities are of high quality as required by the world standard of medical science. Yes, it's a bit crowed because of its quality and relatively low cost. In fact, most hospitals in Thailand are of world standard because of adequate funding and doctors with world-class education and training. Medical science education is heavily subsidised by government funding and scholarships within the countries and abroad. Young Thai best medical minds can go to Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and Oxford, with full government scholarships. Freshly graduated Doctors are required to practice in the rural area for a couple of years before moving on into public hospital of their choices or enter private practice. Doctors in public hospitals are allowed to hold parallel jobs with private hospitals where they enjoy additional and higher pays. Provincial hospitals may be smaller and limited in equipments and resources but the expertise of doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers are of the same high standard as in any big-city hospitals.
As for cancer treatment, Ramathibodi Hospital (or 'Rama' in short) is my hospital of choice.
I told my doctor that I prepare myself exhaustively by reading many American and British books and websites on cancer and follow advices I have read from
Johns Hopkins' Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center ,
American Cancer Society, The National Cancer Institute, And Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN).
My Thai doctor replied: "Don't worry, we at Rama are up to date with the world of medical science. Whatever is available and being practiced in the US we have it here at Rama."
Thai doctors go by the books of science and I know I am in good hands at Rama at a fraction of the cost in the US.
During this chaotic COVID-19 era Thailand has been very successful in coping with the pandemic. Temperature checking, infected person-tracing by mobile phone application, and hygienic measures are everywhere with full cooperation from the citizens, both in Bangkok and the provinces. The minute I enter the hospital door the fever temperature machine with a line of smiling nurses await me. I only have to look up at the distance camera on the machine to have my temperature read and then given an OK sticker on my shirt sleeve. People sitting or walking around the hallways and at fronts of the doctor rooms are advised to keep a social (or physical) distance the best way possible. But on a busy day a two-three-meter physical distance is a real challenge. And I always move to the best further-away seating possible. Everyone wears facial mask as a norm even long before the COVID-19 pandemic. Facial masks became a new normal since the particulate matter 'PM 2.5' air pollution had made big scary news in many big cities a year before the Novel Corona Virus Diseases of 2019.
Thanks to efficient management of the Ministry of Public Health, anyone can get a COVID-19 test if needed. I never had a COVID-19 symptom so I don't need a test. I only come to the hospital on regular appointments and get to observe and absorb the atmosphere in the hospital every few months. Now that I have scheduled for a hernia operation on this coming Monday 25th May the doctor will give me free bonus of COVID-19 test the day before the operation. This is the normal practice of the hospital to administer COVID-19 test to pre-operation patients regardless of the symptom. So I got my very first COVID-19 test on Sunday morning of May 24th and the result came in the afternoon the same day. The testing was done in a tightly-closed room with glass window partition separating doctor and patient. The doctor put out her hands through two rubber holes in the window and instructed me to assist her (as earlier seen on the video in the waiting room). I was required to help the doctor going through the whole 5 minutes process - putting on PPE gloves for her, handing her the swab, letting her insert the flexible swab into my nostril, put the swab back into the tube container, closing the swab tube and put it into a zip-locked plastic bag. After thanking the doctor I came out of the test room and handed the test-kit to the nurse for immediate lab analysis. Rama Hospital informed me by phone in the afternoon that I tested negative.
My son lives in Los Angeles. He suspected a COVID-19 symptom of loosing sense of taste and smell but he could not get a COVID-19 test anywhere for the past two months. He just quarantines himself in his apartment, alone with all his music-composition equipments to keep him from going crazy. He is a film music composer temporary devoid of work opportunity in the era of COVID-19 in 2020. A Magna Cum Laude graduate of Berklee College of Music, but being an Asian immigrant in the US during Donald Trump's era is worse than contracting COVID-19 or any disease, I sense. It seems like the American COVID-19 is racist and should be renamed "COVID-F" (Corona Virus Immigration Diseases-Forever - "F-Virus" for short).
Medical science and public healthcare in Thailand are trusted and admired by developing countries around the world. Political leaders, king and queen, and ordinary citizens from neighbouring countries routinely come for medical treatment in Thailand. Migrant workers also are given the same healthcare privilege as any Thai citizen. The late King Bhumibol of Thailand, himself was born at Mount Auburn Hospital in Massachusetts, preferred medical service from Siriraj Hospital to any other hospital abroad till his final days. Medical tourism ranks Thailand among the world's top destinations.
I am lucky to live in Thailand with world-class healthcare, especially in time of public health crisis.
As of 31 May 2020 Thailand recorded a total of 3,081 COVID-19 cases, 4 more from the previous day. 2,963 cases were remedied, 61 still hospitalised, and 57 sadly died.
The race for COVID-19 vaccines is on in full force around the world and in Thailand. Leading universities, research institutes, scientists, a private biotech company in Thailand including Chulalongkorn University, Mahidol University, National Research Council of Thailand, National Vaccine Institute, and BioNet-Asia, in close cooperation with the University of Pennsylvania, my alma mater, have been hard at work together to find and then produce the best COVID-19 vaccine possible, probably within the next one to two years. With safety and efficacy as the ultimate goal, COVID-19 vaccine from Thailand and other countries will surely help save millions of lives and stop this deadly pandemic.
1 June 2020
Information gives rise
Together with facts
It’s 06:30 PM Eastern DST, Monday evening June 1st, 2020 in Washington, D.C. and 05:30 AM Tuesday Bangkok time. CNN reports seeing a column of 8 or 9 military vehicles moving into the White House premises. The protesting crowd gathering at Lafayette Square Park just across the street from the White House appears peaceful. President Donald Trump prepares to speak at the White House lawn anytime soon after hiding underground in the basement bunker the previous day fearing the crowd attack into the White House.
America has been under protests in all major cities all around the countries since May 25th, the day one African American (black), George Floyd was killed at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer while other officers looking on in complicity. Protests by Americans of all colors and ethnicities have exploded all over the country like wildfires, many peaceful, but some turned violent with property burning and looting. Teargas and rubber bullets are used to control the crowds. In some places police-to-protesters calm reasoning have been attempted with praises.
At 06:42, in an apparent attempt to disperse the protesters, rubber bullets and teargas are fired the crowd outside the White House while some among the protesters shouts “ we’re doing nothing”. But the military police are doing something!
At 06:44 Donald Trump speaks. He accuses the protesters of violence, looting, and unlawful acts and demands law and order in the country. He told state governors to 'dominate' the crowd and to employ full security forces to quell the protesters or he himself will order the national guards and the military forces to take control of the situation.
The White House Full Text:
Statement by the President
LAW & JUSTICE
Issued on: June 1, 2020
6:43 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: “Thank you very much. My fellow Americans: My first and highest duty as President is to defend our great country and the American people. I swore an oath to uphold the laws of our nation, and that is exactly what I will do.
All Americans were rightly sickened and revolted by the brutal death of George Floyd. My administration is fully committed that, for George and his family, justice will be served. He will not have died in vain. But we cannot allow the righteous cries and peaceful protesters to be drowned out by an angry mob. The biggest victims of the rioting are peace-loving citizens in our poorest communities, and as their President, I will fight to keep them safe. I will fight to protect you. I am your President of law and order, and an ally of all peaceful protesters.
But in recent days, our nation has been gripped by professional anarchists, violent mobs, arsonists, looters, criminals, rioters, Antifa, and others. A number of state and local governments have failed to take necessary action to safeguard their residence. Innocent people have been savagely beaten, like the young man in Dallas, Texas, who was left dying on the street, or the woman in Upstate New York viciously attacked by dangerous thugs.
Small-business owners have seen their dreams utterly destroyed. New York’s Finest have been hit in the face with bricks. Brave nurses, who have battled the virus, are afraid to leave their homes. A police precinct station has been overrun. Here in the nation’s capital, the Lincoln Memorial and the World War Two Memorial have been vandalized. One of our most historic churches was set ablaze. A federal officer in California, an African American enforcement hero, was shot and killed.
These are not acts of peaceful protest. These are acts of domestic terror. The destruction of innocent life and the spilling of innocent blood is an offense to humanity and a crime against God.
America needs creation, not destruction; cooperation, not contempt; security, not anarchy; healing, not hatred; justice, not chaos. This is our mission, and we will succeed. One hundred percent, we will succeed. Our country always wins.
That is why I am taking immediate presidential action to stop the violence and restore security and safety in America. I am mobilizing all available federal resources — civilian and military — to stop the rioting and looting, to end the destruction and arson, and to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans, including your Second Amendment rights. Therefore, the following measures are going into effect immediately:
First, we are ending the riots and lawlessness that has spread throughout our country. We will end it now. Today, I have strongly recommended to every governor to deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers that we dominate the streets. Mayors and governors must establish an overwhelming law enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled.
If a city or a state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.
I am also taking swift and decisive action to protect our great capital, Washington, D.C. What happened in this city last night was a total disgrace. As we speak, I am dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel, and law enforcement officers to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism, assaults, and the wanton destruction of property.
We are putting everybody on warning: Our seven o’clock curfew will be strictly enforced. Those who threaten innocent life and property will be arrested, detained, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
I want the organizers of this terror to be on notice that you will face severe criminal penalties and lengthy sentences in jail. This includes Antifa and others who are leading instigators of this violence.
One law and order — and that is what it is: one law. We have one beautiful law. And once that is restored and fully restored, we will help you, we will help your business, and we will help your family.
America is founded upon the rule of law. It is the foundation of our prosperity, our freedom, and our very way of life. But where there is no law, there is no opportunity. Where there is no justice, there is no liberty. Where there is no safety, there is no future.
We must never give in to anger or hatred. If malice or violence reigns, then none of us is free.
I take these actions today with firm resolve and with a true and passionate love for our country. By far, our greatest days lie ahead.
Thank you very much. And now I’m going to pay my respects to a very, very special place. Thank you very much.”
END 6:50 P.M. EDT
His short speech lasted 7 minutes.
After resurrecting the Insurrection Act of 1807 to enable him to deploy the military force to suppress domestic insurrection, Trump had the military police cleared the crowd for him so that he can walk to St. John's Episcopal Church nearby for a photo opportunity.
07:09 Donald Trump was standing in front of the St. John's Episcopal Church holding up the bible he probably never read through, saying ‘we’ll not take long’ to bring the country back. Surrounding by security details, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, and other White House inner circle, Donald Trump then walked back to the White House without even entering the church, let alone saying a prayer! The last time he visited St.John’s Church was in June 2019*.
After less than four years of his presidency, the making of ‘A Shit Hole’ out of America is virtually complete.
MAKING AMERICA A SHIT HOLE! .
“M*A*S*H”, if you want it on your cap.
2 June 2020
*Rev. Robert Fisher of St.John’s Episcopal Church told CNN’s Don Lemon in an interview at 10:30 PM ET.