Rotary spouses visit haemodialysis centre

The Rotary spouses learning about the services offered by
the Rotary Club of Johor Baru Haemodialysis Centre
Fifty-eight Presidents-Elect from Rotary Clubs in Johor, Malacca, Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei Darulsalam, Labuan FT and Singapore, attended the 25th Rotary District Assembly of Rotary International District 3310 held in Johor Baru recently.  Organised by the Rotary Club of Johor Baru, this annual event aims to train the Rotarians for their roles in their respective clubs.  This included the Governor’s Banquet where Philip Chong Mau Kiong from Rotary Club of Kuching Central, was installed as the In-coming District Governor commencing July 2015, for year 2015 – 2016.

While the Rotarians were occupied with training for their roles, their spouses had a separate Spouses Programme with their own time of training and doing their bit for charity in Johor.  Besides learning more about Rotary International and their role and responsibilities as a Rotary Spouse, they gained invaluable knowledge and insights from the experience of other Rotary spouses.  Through fellowship and interaction, the spouses discussed ideas for fund-raising, sharing goodwill with the less fortunate and contributing to the needy in their own communities.
The main item in the Spouses Programme was a community service visit with the patients at the Rotary Club of Johor Baru Haemodialysis Centre in JB.  This is the first NGO-operated Haemodialysis Centre in the region, initially set up in Wisma Abad, Century Gardens as a community service project in 1991 before they moved to the present premises in 2003.  In March 2004, then Sultan of Johor, Sultan Iskandar, officially declared the Rotary Haemodialysis & Hospice Center open and it continues to operate as a centre licensed by the Ministry of Health.

The visitors in front of the Rotary Club of
Johor Baru Haemodialysis Centre in JB
“The success of this worthy project has inspired many other charity organizations to set up similar centres to benefit the community in Johor,” said Rotary Club of JB Vice-President, Lee Soo Tong.  Now seven other Rotary clubs in Johor operate haemodialysis centres while more than 20 such centres have been established by other charitable organisations in Johor.

Kidney or renal failure is a medical condition where the kidneys fail to adequately filter toxins and waste products from the blood while haemodialysis is a method for removing waste products and filtering toxins from the blood, using a special filter called a dialyser that functions as an artificial kidney.  This centre is installed with a Reverse Osmosis machine and 3,000-litre tank upstairs with a 1,200-litre tank downstairs because an extensive water purification system is absolutely critical for haemodialysis.  It has 18 haemodialysis machines operating on two floors and a separate treatment facility for Hepatitis B Virus patients, downstairs.

The Rotary spouses learnt that the centre operated two shifts for up to 65 patients per day on six days per week for patients to receive treatments three times a week.  To meet its objective in providing affordable treatments to patients who are mainly from the lower income group, the centre has maintained its subsidized charge at RM110 per treatment.  Serious health problems can occur in patients who have less than 25 per cent of kidney function if they do not have proper treatment.  However, many patients struggle to pay for their treatments and some even tried to save money by going for only two treatments instead of the prescribed three.

The centre is managed by a voluntary committee of Rotarians and the daily operations are managed by an administrator who is assisted by a competent team of staff nurses, technicians and nursing aids.  The centre sponsors visiting nephrologists from Kuala Lumpur and the training of staff nurses with the National Kidney Foundation.  With escalating overhead costs, the center’s operational expenses is over RM30,000 per month.

Rotary Club of Johor Baru Vice-President, Lee Soo Tong
[4th from Right] accepting the donation presented by the
Rotary spouses from the Rotary Club of JB Foundation
The admin staff in the centre also helps to put registered outpatients in touch with charity or welfare organizations for sponsorship.  While patients enjoy a RM50 subsidy from the Ministry of Health, the center bears the costs of the patients’ routine blood tests, nephrologists’ visits and annual Electrocardiograph (ECG) procedure.  Some patients may also need special medications of up to eight doses per month to increase their haemoglobin level.

Lee said as the Rotary spouses take care of their families and the Rotary family, they have a part to play in helping to create awareness and to adopt a healthier lifestyle as preventive measures against kidney failure.  While the centre is supported by many charitable organizations and generous individuals, there is still a big shortfall which the Rotary Club of JB helps to finance through fund-raising activities.  As Lee accepted the donation of RM5,000 from the Rotary Club of JB Foundation, he thanked the Rotary spouses for their gift and visit to the centre.

Malaysians and Permanent Residents may register for treatment with the center, located at No. 4-N, Jalan Tun Abdul Razak, Susur 3, 80200 Johor Baru.  Tel: 607 – 222 2433/222 2403, Fax: 607 – 222 2443.

A version of this was published in The Malaysian Insider on 21 April 2015

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