by Sophea, Manager of Methodist Hostel, Cambodia. His wife, Sophealin, is a trainee doctor.
When one door was closed, another was opened.
Private medical clinics were not spared from COVID-19. Many were forced to shut down due to infected cases. This had brought about fear and refusal to see patients and thus making medical assistance less accessible to the people. The Ministry of Health had to issue a warning to the private clinics of potential licence revocation if they refused to see patients. When fear and darkness seemed to engulf during the lockdowns, faith and light shone the brightest. The timing had never been more perfect!
After my grandmother’s funeral, Sophealin and I returned to Phnom Penh. Soon, Phnom Penh went into lockdown. A few days later, an eighty-four-year-old church member fainted in her nap, and developed slurred speech and limped limbs. Her children rang us. We went to their house right away, equipped with medical supplies and unused drugs from my grandmother’s treatment. They are expensive drugs, but we did not charge them a single cent because they were gifted by my grandmother’s niece.
Sophealin’s medical name card allowed us to go through police barricades unchecked. For two whole weeks, we went through the same barricades to the point that the policemen recognised us. For two whole weeks, prayers were offered, and people took turn to watch over the elderly lady. We ourselves were on standby from our home. Slowly, she improved and could move about on her own. Since then, words got out. People in the neighbourhood started consulting Sophealin. Some requested for in-person consultation while others by phone calls. One night, after prayerfully discussing the risk of contracting COVID-19, Sophealin and I committed ourselves to God’s protection, and to be His hands and feet to bring hope and treatment to the community. And our distinctive approach rests on three Ps: Prayer. Payment. Personal Follow-up.
PRAYER: We told the people, “We diagnose and give you medication, but we believe our God gives healing. We pray for God to heal you through these medications. Better still, we would like to pray with you to ask God to heal you miraculously so that you would not have to spend so much on treatment. Would you allow us to pray with you now?” This meant that, in monetary term, we would bring home lesser income. However, in the soul-saving mission, we hoped to bring more into the Kingdom of God. We employed this method to good effect for church members because it came out of our own mouth. We had tasted success in directing them to depend more on God and less on people and medication, especially in the current climate of stress-induced sickness.
PAYMENT: We did not charge a flat rate nor consultation fee. It was all factored into the cost of medication. The not so well-to-do patients pay less, sometimes they just had to pay the original cost of the medicine. The well-to-do patients pay more, but it was still more attractive than private clinics. Those who could not afford to pay at the point of treatment could pay on a later date.
PERSONAL FOLLOW-UP: Private clinics and hospitals expect their patients to return for follow-up. But we followed up on our patients by messaging or calling to check on how they were responding to the treatment. It was time consuming, but it was also worth investing - considering their well-being, our relationship building, and the gospel opportunity.
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