Touched by the Newfound Care

“I am just very thankful to HealthServe and Mr. Chua, as they have helped me a lot since I started coming here after my injury. The people at my workplace did not care much about me, but HealthServe has helped to drive me to the hospital for my surgery and back to Tai Seng after that. The next morning, my employer was unable to send me for my appointment, so HealthServe gave me a lift back to the hospital at 8.30am.”

Jing Lei is a Chinese construction worker from the province of Hebei. He has worked in Singapore for over two years. He is supporting two children and his wife, as well as his elderly parents, back at home. 

On 8 August 2016, Jing Lei was hammering a metal plate, and all of a sudden, a fragment flew into his right eye, injuring it badly. He was told to use some eye drops. However, as he still experienced pain in his eye, his colleague brought him to a GP. The GP told him that there was nothing wrong with his eye and issued him some eye drops and medicine. He did not issue Jing Lei any MC days. Yet, the next day, his vision in that eye failed, and his eye began to swell. At first, his boss refused to admit that it was a work injury. He told Jing Lei that the injury was his own problem and that he should go back to China to get his eyesight checked. 

On 9 August, he took a taxi by himself to the hospital to seek treatment. He was hospitalised for 42 days, and the hospital examined and treated his eye. He could not open his right eye then, and his eye kept tearing compulsively. Although he received 50 days of MC, he was unable to keep the copies of his MCs, because they were all retained by his employer. 

His boss paid him a portion of the wages he is owed (5 months’ worth), but still has not paid several months’ worth of money. Instead, his employer told him to write a resignation letter and to go back home in December, probably to absolve themselves of his medical bills. 

He felt troubled when he was injured, because his eyesight will affect the rest of his life, and he still has to support his family. Furthermore, he was spending money but he was not earning anything, and he had no money to send home. His boss did not care for him, and in fact chased him out of his lodging. Even though his job agency provided him with a dormitory to stay in, it was infested with bed bugs, so he had been choosing to sleep out on the streets and on the overhead bridge.

When he came to HealthServe, Jin Lei broke down and cried when he spoke about his injury with a HealthServe caseworker. He felt helpless and was afraid that there would be no resolution for his eye injury. In fact, at a meeting with MOM, his employer tried to claim that his injury was caused by an infection and not because of work.

HealthServe provided him with daily meals at the Geylang Food Project, as well as a monthly MRT transportation top-up of $20, which he needed to tide him over for each day. HealthServe also helped him to write a letter to the Ministry of Manpower, requesting on his behalf for his sick leave, and for his employer to pay the compensation for his medical bills, which prompted his employer to eventually pay for them. In addition, HealthServe gave him a place to stay at our Tai Seng shelter, where he has been living for 6 months now. HealthServe also helped to drive him to the hospital for his cornea transplant operation, and back to Tai Seng after the surgery was over. The next morning, his employer was still unable to send him for his appointment, so HealthServe again sent him to the hospital at 8.30 am. 

In addition, HealthServe brought him out on outings, such as to Sentosa and the National Art Gallery, and for 2 Father’s Day events. He had fun during these outings and felt happier, because it distracted him from his worries. He has met many friends at HealthServe, and has fun playing card games with them during Happy Hour. (In fact, he is a very skilful player and has a wonderful poker face while playing as the saboteur – i.e. the “bad guy” – in the Saboteur game.) When he has to go to the hospital for a check-up, or go to the Ministry of Manpower for an appointment, his friends will help to packet dinner back for him. 

He is currently awaiting further treatment at the hospital – he will only receive his medical report when his treatment is finished. His doctor told him he has a long road to recovery, and might even need a second operation. He is now also awaiting his compensation, which he needs for his future medical expenses when he returns home. The HealthServe staff are following up on his case closely to make sure they will provide support for him as he meets with MOM and his employer.

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