IntlSOS 30 Years - From East to West - Page 17

01 Early Days in Asia | Our Learning Curve in Jakarta
Major Milestone
Our Learning Curve in Jakarta
Our Approach and Our People
Whilst Singapore was to be the headquarters of the
company, Jakarta was the pilot – the first developing
country where we would provide assistance, backed
up by Singapore. What we learnt in Jakarta was to
be replicated in other emerging countries. Jakarta
offered the perfect learning curve. Pascal already
had contacts there plus it was a large and complex
place – a huge archipelago – and many foreign
businesses were setting up there.
House calls got off the ground with the national
doctors providing a good service, backed up by
Pascal; feedback was positive. However, whilst the
notion of emergency assistance was well established
in France, people in Indonesia were not familiar with
doctors visiting their home, they were more used to
going to a clinic or emergency room. A clinic was
called for. So Dr Inge used her local knowledge and
contacts to get the necessary permits and the SOS
Medika clinic opened its doors.
At the time clinics in Indonesia were open 24 hours
but doctors were rarely present at night. Operations
staff only involved a doctor during the night if they
felt it was absolutely necessary. With around 31,000
doctors serving a population of 180 million in
Indonesia, getting to see a doctor could be very
difficult. Because doctors were so rare they were
rather revered and this tended to make them a little
arrogant. Doctors sometimes saw four patients at
the same time and there was little discussion or
choice of treatments offered.
We took a totally different approach. Dr Inge and
Pascal both had extensive experience of healthcare
in Europe and they wanted to apply the same
principles in Indonesia. The Jakarta clinic was the
Left: Jakarta Cipete Clinic, early days.
first clinic in Indonesia to offer direct access to a
full clinical team, around the clock. As Dr Inge
points out:
“Pascal emphasised right from the start that the
patient was at the centre of any decision. That is still
the foundation of this, and every International SOS
clinic, today.”
The clinic was run to international standards and this
has become a benchmark of our offering. It provided
primary health care to expats and their families,
as well as emergency care and stabilisation prior
to transport.
Much of the early money was spent on supplies –
foldup mattresses and easy-to-carry emergency
equipment. ECG readers, defibrillators, heart
monitors and respirators were used in the clinic and
taken on calls, which was seen as quite revolutionary
by our clients.
Doctors were on duty 24/7 with further back up
a phone call away. People called Pascal day and
night. Dr Inge observes that, “He can be woken
at 3 a.m., he gives clear advice, then goes straight
back to sleep.”
In 1985 we had a staff of 35. There were five doctors
(three during the day, two at night), as well as
nurses, ambulance drivers, someone to do x-rays,
and a cook who is still with us today. As patient
demand grew so did the team, with the critical
arrival of Dr Myles Neri, and then Dr Rene de Jongh,
joining as co-ordinating doctors; our national staff
has expanded too. In the mid 1990s Pascal moved to
Singapore to focus on the rest of the business, but
he still spends time in Indonesia. Dr Inge remains in
charge in Indonesia.


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