A Chance to be Wanted

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THE baby hatch, installed at the back of the hospital building located at Setia Raja Commercial Centre, Tabuan Laru is without any identification recognition, or CCTV to protect the mother’s identity.
“DON’T leave me,” if a baby could talk is what they would say. PHOTO CREDITS : PIXABAY
KPJ Kuching Specialist Hospital is the tenth among its private hospital group in Malaysia to install a baby hatch.
ONCE you close the door with the baby placed inside, the door will immediately shut and could not be open anymore.

HUMAN beings tend to take things for granted as they decide hastily on the product of their mistake. As the famous Malaysian saying goes, ‘Berani buat berani tanggung’ which translates to if you are daring enough to do it, you should be daring enough to take responsibility – the phrase is often directed to those who does something without thinking of its consequences, and when things happened, they do not want to take responsibility.

Often we hear about underage pregnancies, and with it sometimes we hear cases of baby dumping. This inhumane culture affects not only Malaysia, but also on a global scale as mothers choose to pretend as if they never been through nine months of pregnancy by discarding their own flesh and blood, usually in secluded areas to hide.

Rampant baby dumping in Malaysia is nothing new; in fact it is an alarming yet normal news that is in the media almost every other day.

With its statistics gradually increasing each year, the Ministry of Welfare, Women and Community Wellbeing, in an effort to eradicate the issue, visited numerous schools and villages to give awareness talks as well as including baby hatch as part of their modules.

A baby hatch or baby box is a place where people (typically mothers) can bring babies, usually newborn, and abandon them anonymously in a safe place to be found and cared for. It serves as an option for mothers who are not able to care for the baby.

However, it does not serve as an encouragement for them to ‘legally dump babies’ but rather to find a safe haven for the babies to find love in the future.

KPJ Healthcare Group in 2010 alongside various government bodies had established the first baby hatch in Malaysia to curb the baby dumping issue, with the first one installed in KPJ Ipoh.

Sarawak, in the early 2017 had become the tenth among the private hospitals to have its baby hatch installed to help curb the issue within its jurisdiction. So why did KPJ pick up on the practice? According to KPJ Kuching Specialist Hospital Chief Nursing Officer Catherine Pung, “We want to save the life of newborns. Whether the mother is unwilling to care for it, or not able to, we do not want them to place the babies in places that is not safe.”

“We want to save lives and it is not that we are encouraging it, rather we provide a better solution compared to the mothers dumping the babies anywhere and risk them from getting eaten by animals,” Catherine also mentioned.

Catherine explained how this method will holistically help the mothers to move on from the experience especially if they are only school students with their inability to care for the baby.

Furthermore, this alternative helps the babies themselves by creating a new future, and fate for them as they are adopted by new families.

The baby hatch is installed at the Accident and Emergency Ward (A&E) of KPJ, and being in charge of the A&E and the baby hatch, the Unit Manager of A&E and registered nurse Pamela Amban shared the processes once a baby is placed into the hatch.

“There will be a sensor that can detect when a baby had been placed inside the hatch and the door had been closed, the silent alarm to alert the nurses in A&E will trigger,” Pamela disclosed.

According to her, the alarm only triggers when the baby is being placed in and not when someone opens the door. Mothers who chose place their babies inside the hatch will have to reconsider their decision, not once, not twice, but until they are truly sure they want to do it.

This is because, once they place the babies into the baby hatch, the door will be locked immediately as soon as they close it so there is no turning back unless they want to claim the baby back which is going to be a hassle as they have to do so with the Welfare Department.

The baby hatch at KPJ is not installed with any CCTV, or any identification recognition, according to Pamela, “We do not want to know who put the baby there, we just want to save the baby and the mother can feel at ease because the baby is guaranteed to be in a safe place.”

Pamela continued, “Once we bring the baby in, the Doctor will examine, while we notify personnel who are involved in the baby hatch programme such as the Welfare Department, and the Police.”

“So we take care of the baby’s health and condition in the ward while we wait for the Welfare Department to get the permission from court to bring the baby to orphanages for adoption,” the nurse also mentioned.

However, if the baby is found to be ill, Pamela said the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) alongside One Stop Crisis Centre will step in to take care of the baby in SGH.

Pamela kept on stressing that this is not an encouragement for women to continue the birds and the bees without protection, and that it is definitely not a leeway for mothers to put their unwanted newborn but rather a place to give a chance for babies to have a better life.

As newborn, unknowing to its surrounding, and only able to rely on the first faces they see after they are born, babies as we know it could only cry instead of properly expressing themselves for someone to understand them. Kuching Specialist Hospital is the 12th network of private specialist hospital in KPJ Healthcare Group.

The four-storey hospital, equipped with state-of-the-art technologies, is located within Setia Raja Commercial Centre, Tabuan Laru, and is approximately 10km from Kuching City and 10 minutes drive from Kuching International Airport.

Kuching Specialist Hospital is a one-stop hospital offering a wide range of in-patient and out-patient specialist services, ranging from prevention, diagnosis and treatment of wide range of diseases and medical conditions to anesthetics procedures. There are also health screening packages that they specifically designed to the needs of individuals in different age groups. All rooms are designed and fitted with modern standards of furnishing that provides the comfort of living and restful environment.

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