My Monday morning experience at Yishun Polyclinic

Dear Diary,
I’m now at Yishun Polyclinic and I shall do an exciting chronological breakdown of events given that the woman at the entrance said I should give myself 2.5 half hours because “it is Monday and there are a lot of people.”

  
8:34am – Checking in  
So here I am seated, waiting to register. My number is 5382 and the number on the TV screen is now 5316. Lovely. It jumped 16 numbers in the 5 minutes I took to fiddle around with my phone. The tinkly electronic bell sounds every 3 seconds. Guess they are pretty efficient. I’ve got no complains. Yet. 
The Internet connection here isn’t great. I can’t upload photos on Instagram or view anything. Ah well. Good thing I brought a book. 
9:20am – Waiting for the doctor 

So I’ve just registered and am waiting to see the doctor at Clinic A, Rooms 41 – 45. A quick check shows that there are 6 Clinics – Clinics A, B, C, D, E and F. My new number is 2XXX and the highest number on the screen is 1XXX!
Horrors. 
Anyway, I was prepared for this because as I registered, the person at the desk informed me that I would have to wait at least till 12pm before I saw the doctor because it was very crowded.
“Are you willing to wait?” she inquired tersely. 
“Yes, I guess,” I stammered back politely. 

  
Anyway, I was feeling a tad peckish, having only 2 eggs and a tiny apple for breakfast so I popped out to the polyclinic’s small bistro to get a little something. I decided against a Chicken Pau and settled for my favorite Nonya Kueh instead. Love that stuff!
Well, at least I’ve got a nice view of some trees and a lake as I wait. For the next 2 – 3 hours. 
Had to postpone my lunch appointment because I thought it would take 2 hours max and I came early at 8 plus man. 
Ah well. The woes of having just enough to get by. If you’re well off enough to go directly to see a psychologist, count yourself lucky. 
Meanwhile, I’ll wait and see if I can get online since I’m just beside the window. 
10:25am – Escape to Northpoint Shopping Centre
I scheduled a lunch appointment at 12pm at nex because I thought I’d be in and out of the polyclinic in 2 hours flat. Who knew that it would turn out to be so long?
So I rescheduled with my friend and she agreed to come over to have lunch with me at Northpoint. She said it was nearer for her. Guess I gotta thank God for little mercies. 
As I was complaining about the long waiting time to my friends in a group chat on Whatsapp, one of them informed me that if I made an appointment using a mobile app, the waiting time would be cut down to 15 – 20 minute. 
What?
How on earth was I supposed to know about the benefits of making an appointment if that fact was not prominently showcased on the website that I checked last night?
And how would the elderly and the disadvantaged (the very people polyclinics are supposed to serve) be able to have access or even know how to use the app?
To be fair, my friend who frequents polyclinics said she saw it advertised on a poster at Clementi Polyclinic. It wasn’t very clear, but with so much time on her hands, she eventually figured out what it was all about. 
So it’s for frequent users of polyclinics who are tech-savvy?
Good thing my friend is coming soon. I’m rather famished. 
12:41pm – Back at Yishun Polyclinic, Clinic A
Did the right thing by escaping for lunch. I came back and the highest number is 2XXX. That’s 300 people in front of me. 
Do the doctors not get a break? Poor sods. 
Anyway, I’m glad my friend Nicole is coming to meet me. At least that way we can have a conversation instead of me just sitting here typing away on my phone. I probably look like some phone addict to the other patients. 
1:05pm – Finally! The doctor
So I finally got to see the doctor. She was nice and caring, not like a harried doctor I imagined a polyclinic doctor would be. She was conscientious, taking my medical history and family history down in detail. 
She asked why I wanted to see a psychologist and whether I was experiencing any acute symptoms. 
I actually said out loud, “Should I be honest with you?”
And she looked at me in concern and said, “Of course you should.”
So I told her I was feeling the onset of hypomania but would check myself in with my regular psychiatrist if things peaked. Just that I would like to do some psychotherapy to see if that would help manage my mood. 
She said okay and that she’d write me a letter and I would just have to wait five minutes for it. 
1.30pm – Paying and checking out 
I collected my referral letter from Counter 12, a dedicated one for hospital referrals. There was a bit of a mixup there because apparently you can’t see a psychologist on subsidized rates (cos they have in-house psychologists at the polyclinic. Who knew?) but that seeing a psychiatrist would be fine. They also said the passing on from the shrink to the psychologist is in house at KTPH and would not know whether the rate would still be subsidized there. But no matter. I’m optimistic. 
I collected the letter and made payment by NETS via a machine. No queue! Yay. 
And that marks the end of my morning at Yishun Polyclinic. Not too bad for a first time visit save the horrifically long waiting time. 
On hindsight, I wonder why making an appointment reduces the waiting time by 6 times (300 minutes divided by 20 minutes). If you work in the healthcare industry, I’d love to know!
Interesting way to spend 5 hours on a Monday morning. Haha. 

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