I feel there's a need to make something clear. Not all the staff enjoyed the hefty bonuses and increments..only Durai's favoured ones. We used to always joke amongst ourselves who the 'flavour' of the month was and how well 'rewarded' he/she would be at the end of the year.
I'm sure most of former & current staff must be feeling betrayed & angry..Believe it or not, many of them worked there because they believed in the cause - we thought we were truly helping the kidney-failure patients. Durai had always explained to us..that NKF is regularly audited and that 70% of the monies collected was used to help the patients. I really did believe(I'm that naive *sigh*) that it had to be true..and that even though there could be some abuse of the funds (in that the snr management had used it for their own enjoyment), at least the patients still benefited from it. I'm still reeling from the fact that only 10% went to the patients..
We didn't mind working hard..in fact, most of the staff at NKF worked crazy hours, even during the weekends. And to think that Durai actually claimed O/T! And I used to think that he was one of the more hardworking & hands-on CEOs ard. WTF! No wonder he's always working late because the longer the hours, the more the money into his pocket!
All of us staff had to sign a 3 years bond with the company and should they leave before the stipulated time, they have to pay up 2 months of their salary! I was one such person who did pay up though some of the more 'favoured' ones didn't have to. And if any of the staff had undergone external training or gone for an overseas trip and left before the contractual period, they too had to pay back the expenses incurred for those activities. The explanation given was that precious money and effort was made to train us staff and thus NKF had to be 'compensated' if we chose to leave before the 3 years were up.
There were lots of stupid rules too. One of them was on punctuality. We had to clock in when we came to work and for every 5 minutes we were late, we had to pay $5. And if you were late for more than half and hour, you will lose half a day leave. It didn't matter if we were up all night working! . Oh, we were also fined for grammatical errors in our reports/letters too since it reflected our lack of professionalism.
As I'd mentioned before, I used to be with DPA..the Department of Patients Advancement where we were responsible for the welfare of the patients. I knew many of the figures were fudged - dialysis fees, the no. of patients, the cost of drugs etc.. The figures were obtained from our department since we managed them. At that time, the dialysis fees was still accurately reported as $1,600 in our letters and PR cmn but a few months after I joined, we were asked to increase it to $2,000. And this was how it was done. The letters we drafted would have to be vetted by Durai and when it was returned to us, the new figures to be reported for the dialysis cost and patients no. was penned down by him. I did question my HOD then about the ethics behind it but she'd shrugged and said that it was commanded by the CEO..A few months later, the figure was changed to $2,400 (abt the time when the tv charity event was starting). The excuse given by Mr D was that we shouldnt be using SGH's pricing but those from the private dialysis centres which charge between $2,000 - $2,400 for dialysis. The reason - because the service and amenities from NKF were similar to that of the private dialysis centres. I have no idea how they managed to increase the figures to $2,600 6 years later...they must have found some other excuses to justify it. The thing is..such changes were done in a flippant manner and at the will & fancy of the CEO.
It was the same with the setting of fees for the patients. If he was in a good mood, he would be more lenient with the patients. There were times when he would simply walk out of a session with the patients and keep us all waiting for abt 1-2 hours and returned with a black face and the remaining patients would suffer as a result as it meant that most of their fees would raised or they would be admonished by him. Most of these sessions with the patients were held in the evenings..starting from 6pm and at times, it would end as late as 10pm and most of them would not have had their dinner yet.
There was something else that bugged me.. I'd written abt it before. Patients who had medical insurance like Medishield or insurance coverage from their company were taken advantage off too. Most of them were charged the full dialysis figure of $2,400 because their insurance would cover up to $2,000 of their fees. So, it meant that if you had insurance, it doesn't help because NKF would simply charge you more. But what is worse is that the total medical coverage from the insurers is capped at once you've reached the limit, it meant the patients couldn't rely on it anymore. Therefore, the higher NKF charges, the faster the patients would reach the limit. And remember, dialysis is for life so the patients really lose out in the long run.
I also had some problems with the way he derived at the fees for the patients and I could go on and on about it but..I guess more importantly now, it's how the new management at NKF would be able to rectify what had be done and really go about helping the patients more. It can't be just a reduction of fees by a few tens of a dollar..that really doesn't help much especially when the fees they had to pay was quite high to start off with. The fact of the matter is, many of the patients had no choice but to go with NKF. SGH and KDF had limited places and private dialysis was out of the question.
Could we as (former) staff done anything? Or are we just as guilty because we chose to turn the other way and took the easy way out by just leaving the company and letting them continue to exploit the patients and the generousity of the public? But what we knew was only what we could see at a superficial level or from hearsay. I really don't know..Afterall, I did exactly that..I chose to walk away.