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Institut Jantung Negara: Caring beyond your heart

IJN's has carried out 36,381 screenings for its outreach programme, which targets rural areas in Peninsular Malaysia.

At Insitut Jantung Negara (IJN), caring for the community is at the heart of our organisation. Our belief of putting patients before profit drives our work, and empowers us to operate sustainably without losing sight of our commitment to provide affordable and quality healthcare for all.

As one of the region’s leading heart centres, we have served some 3.7 million patients, built up a large pool of medical talent within and beyond Malaysia, and pioneered innovative heart treatments for patients in need.

In 1995, we established the IJN Foundation as our dedicated philanthropic arm. The main function of the Foundation is to raise and manage funds to assist needy patients, support cutting-edge research, and promote education and training.

Since 2007 however, our approach to corporate social responsibility, or corporate social initiatives (CSI), is based on preventive medicine – that is prevention is always better than cure. Our CSI focuses on creating public awareness of living healthier lifestyles and improving access to basic health screenings for those who live outside the Klang Valley.

Bringing quality healthcare to your doorstep
One of our main CSI is our outreach programme targeted at people who live in rural areas, particularly those in northern and southern regions of Peninsular Malaysia. Since the start of outreach visits in 2007, we have carried out a total of 36,381 screenings.

In 2012, we started operating mobile medical clinics to help those who have difficulties accessing medical facilities and services. For some who live in particularly remote areas, getting to a healthcare facility may be a complicated process, due to the lack of means such as finances and transportation.

With the help of our volunteer medical and non-medical personnel, we provide basic testing including tests for Body Mass Index (BMI), blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol. Our mobile clinics are also equipped with electrocardiogram (ECG) and echocardiography (2D ECHO) machines for advance testing. Additionally, we carry out home visits for those who are unable to attend the health screenings or are incapacitated.

If dire health problems are detected at the mobile clinics, we refer patients to undergo follow up examinations at nearby hospitals. We also hand out complimentary basic medicine for adults and children depending on their need on a case-by-case basis.

Alongside screening and testing, we also organise cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) demonstrations and educational talks by experienced doctors. Interested members of the public can also opt for health counselling with professionals, to learn general health tips and have their medical queries answered.

Many Malaysians also still lack awareness of the importance of regular health check-ups. Often, their reasoning is that it is too troublesome to do so when they have no obvious or serious health issues. Through our site visits and mobile clinics, we highlight how health screenings are crucial in early detection of disease and avoiding health complications in the first place.

Thus far, our mobile clinics have travelled to remote locations such as Lawin Selatan and Trolok in Perak; Jengka 14 and Mempaga in Pahang; and Sungai Tiang in Kedah. We also carry out visits on invitations by other parties such as local authorities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), parliamentarians, and even the corporate sector.

The impact of our outreach and mobile clinics can be seen by the encouraging turnout rates at the places we visit, as well as the number of people who have subsequently followed with us for health check-ups. This success has motivated us to continue and expand our outreach work in the years to come.

Being responsive to community needs
We are aware that medical treatments can be financially burdensome, especially for those who are already struggling with low-incomes. We are committed to not turning away those in need of treatment merely because they cannot afford to receive help.

One form of financial aid available is from the special assessment unit (Unit Taksiran Khas) run by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with IJN. The unit assess patient cases and provides funding assistance those who require it. Whilst these governmental referrals are generally pensioners and civil servants, the unit also offers subsidies who do not fall under these categories.

Meanwhile, the IJN Foundation’s Patient Assistance Programme provides funds to help underprivileged patients receive life-saving treatment. The Foundation has spent more than RM4 million each year to fund the procedure and surgery costs of the needy by raising funds through donations from the public and the corporate sector.

Aside from surgery costs, the Foundation further funds the provision of heart devices such as pacemakers, intra cardioverter defibrillator, valves and mitra clips. Funds are also available to support patients’ overall well-being during their stay at IJN, such as their food, travelling, accomodation and daily expenses.

We have also undertaken ad-hoc humanitarian CSI based on urgent and immediate community needs. This includes medical relief in disaster areas, such as during the 2014 floods in Kelantan and assisting flood victims in Kuala Tahan, Pahang in 2015. These experiences have further bolstered the state of preparedness of our personnel to respond to similar events should they occur.

Promoting prevention
Malaysia is ranked high amongst nations with the highest mortality rates for coronary heart disease. The country is also grappling with other non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity.

Whilst we strive to provide the highest quality of medical care and treatment, it is our view that we need to mitigate this by helping people live healthier lifestyles to avoid these conditions in the first place. Prevention includes regular exercise, balanced food intake, healthier cooking option, and avoiding damaging habits such as smoking.

To this end, health awareness raising is an integral portion of our CSI. Aside from organising regular health talks and disseminating educational information, we carry out activities that encourage the public to directly adopt healthier habits.

Amongst the notable programmes we run are “Ride 4 Your Heart”, an annual cycling event, as well as the occasional marathon “Run 4 Your Heart”. To improve public understanding of nutrition and food intake, we often hold cooking competitions such as the FatCheck Family Cook-off to encourage people to plan healthier meals and practice healthy eating habits. We also believe in starting young by organising activities for children, such as hand-washing demonstrations.

Our Quit Smoking Programme meanwhile, has its own outreach programmes to support those who wish to kick the habit. These programmes help smokers deal with nicotine related problems and addictions by offering support and ways of quitting smoking for good.

Collaborating for the common good
We believe that collaboration and partnerships with like-minded parties is key to efficiently cater to community needs and scale the impact of our CSI. By leveraging on different areas of expertise and sharing resources, partnerships have enabled us to execute robust programmes with overwhelming success rates. Such collaboration has also served as a platform for other corporations to get involved in meaningful CSR programmes.

For example, our corporate partners such as Felda, Adabi, Media Prima, and various non-governmental organisations, we have been able to effectively select and target the communities that are most in need for our mobile medical clinics. These partners were also crucial in promoting the programme, and selecting suitable locations for effective dissemination of health
information and provision of basic health checkups.

Collaboration further enables us to improve our daily health services at our heart centre. With the help of Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) for instance, IJN Foundation was able to upgrade and expand the dormitories available for families of our patients to comfortably rest during emergencies.

As a healthcare provider, IJN is driven to serve the community by improving its overall health. We will continue staying true to our mission of making high quality heart treatment accessible to all, whilst encouraging more the adopt healthy habits to live longer, happier, and more productive lives.

Watch the interview below to know more about their winning strategy:

 

The Healthcare Asia Awards 2020 was held virtually on 14-17 April 2020.

This year's nominations were judged by Chris Hardesty, Director, Healthcare & Life Sciences Practice, KPMG; Abhay Bangi, Partner, Life Sciences & Healthcare Lead, Ernst & Young; Tan Boon Kai, Partner, Audit & Assurance, BDO LLP; Mairin Reid, Director, Life Sciences & Healthcare, Deloitte.

If you would like to join the 2021 awards and be awarded as one of the most outstanding healthcare companies in the region, please email Julie Anne Nuñez at julie@charltonmediamail.com 

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