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The test that failed [Financial Dilemma]

This has got to be the most absurd WTF thing that one can get and frankly speaking, if i were the employer i would be dumbfounded as well.

THE doctors tests on Oct 8 had given the maid the all-clear so employer W L Lim was shocked when, just two months later, Nina gave birth to a premature baby after checking herself into hospital.

Can you imagine the shock I had when a policeman rang me and told me my maid had just given birth? said Madam Lim, 48, a systems analyst.

An even bigger bombshell was the bill.

In addition to paying $5,500 for her maids Caesarian delivery on Dec 11, Mdm Lim was asked to fork out $67,000 in medical costs for the 27-week-old infant boy, now warded at the KK Womens and Childrens Hospital (KKH) Intensive Care Unit.

Migrant welfare organisations tell Today it is very rare for maids to give birth in Singapore. Thats because under government regulations, the moment employers find out their maid is pregnant, she must be repatriated or they stand to lose their $5,000 security deposit, said Ms Bridget Lew of the Humanitarian Organisation for Migrant Economics, who personally knows of only one other case.

But Mdm Lim finds herself in an unusual quandary. She claims she was unaware Nina was pregnant and, more significantly, so was the medical expert. How is it that the doctor failed to detect my maid was four months pregnant? she asked.

The pregnancy tests currently administered comprise a urine check and an abdominal examination. According to Dr Juliana Abu-Wong, a gynaecologist and obstetrician with more than 10 years experience, the accuracy of urine-based pregnancy tests vary from 90 to 95 per cent.

Mdm Lim said when she met with the Ministry of Manpower last week, she learnt a blood test was more accurate. But it is up to employers to order it.

While she acknowledges that her case was an exception, Mdm Lim wonders if more can be done to spare employers the agony of coping with a pregnant maid and medical bills. If these two tests are insufficient to detect pregnancy, perhaps the blood test should be included.

When asked, the Association of Employment Agencies Singapore (AEAS) told TODAY it was not keen on making the blood test mandatory as this would increase the cost for the employer. Moreover Mdm Lims situation was more an exception than the norm.

But Mdm Lim, a mother of two teens, feels the added cost is a small price to pay. Can you imagine the stress I am going through? Wouldnt you rather pay a little bit more and not have to fret over an even bigger medical bill or deal with the emotional stress?

SUBHD: Maids friend signed undertaking

For now, a more immediate concern is who will foot the bill for Ninas boy, who weighed just 1.2 kg at birth. Dr Bhavani Sriram, a senior consultant at KKHs department of neonatology, said generally, babies are deemed healthy to be discharged when they are at least 2kg and 35 weeks old.

Mdm Lims lawyer, Mr Mark Goh, is of the view that she is not liable for the medical costs of her maids baby. He noted that the hospitals admission records show the undertaking was signed by Ninas friend, a maid.

Though the Ministry of Manpowers rules require the employer to bear the full cost of the maids medical care, including hospitalisation, nowhere does it say the employer should bear the medical cost of her kin, said Mr Goh.

According to KKH, Ninas friend, Ms Shushma Sari, was made aware of what she was signing for. Ninas baby was dangerously breached and had to be immediately delivered by emergency C-section.

Said Mr Johnny Quah, KKHs chief financial officer: Part of the admission process includes financial counselling. As the staff was unable to contact Ninas employer, she explained the estimated charges to Ninas friend and the signature obtained was more as an indication that she understood the charges and would convey it to Ninas employer whom she said she will continue to call.

The hospital would not use this to pursue payment from (Ms Shushma).Mr Quah added that when she was notified, Mdm Lim came to KKHs business office the following day to provide Ninas passport details and the estimated bill size was explained to her.


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