Clinic doctor: We are not heartless
The incident that happened to Miss Maria Schooling was a one-off involving a part-time staff member who worked at the clinic once a week, said Dr Tan Teck Jack, a partner at the Kao and Tan Family Medical Centre and Surgery.
The manager of the clinic, who identified herself only as Christine, told The New Paper that the clinic assistant did not know how to handle the situation and it was too late to call her superiors.
She did not inform the locum doctor because he was not in charge.
The clinic assistant later turned the patient away because she was busy attending to other patients.
The clinic manager said that the assistant did not have the password to access the cash register for further transactions and tally accounts after midnight. There is usually a full-time staff member who has the password.
Citing the incident as an example of poor communication skills, Dr Tan said that he has never turned a patient away.
"We are a clinic in the heartland and not heartless or mercenary.
"There were several occasions when I actually forked out money from my own pocket to pay for the patient's medical bill.
"In cases when a patient does not have enough money, we'll allow them to come back another day.
"Sometimes they don't come back, and we'll just waive it," he said.
He has since apologised to Mrs Angela Schooling, Miss Schooling's mother.
The clinic assistant has also been suspended, pending investigations.
The clinic, which has been in the Tiong Bahru area for the past 12 years, has three regular doctors and a locum doctor who works from 10pm to midnight.