Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Alexandra Hospital to open new facilities, more beds by 2020; new Integrated General Hospital model will see same team caring for patient from admission to discharge

By Seow Bei Yi, The Straits Times, 29 Oct 2018

Alexandra Hospital, which was taken over by the National University Health System (NUHS) in June, plans to open new facilities and increase its 176 beds to around 300 by 2020 to cater to an expected growth in demand from the Queenstown area.

The hospital's chief executive Jason Phua gave the updates at the hospital's open house yesterday, which 500 residents from the area and other guests attended.

In January, new facilities will be opened, including a day surgery operating theatre, a joint reconstruction and replacement centre, an endoscopy centre, an admissions and service centre, as well as a pharmacy.

A dental centre and palliative care programme are set to start operations some time next year as well, said Associate Professor Phua.

By the end of this year, the hospital will have new inpatient wards, and beds will be added when the need arises, he added.

"Even before we took over Alexandra Hospital, we went out to Queenstown and surveyed many residents to understand how we could better meet their healthcare needs," he said. Alexandra Hospital was run by the Sengkang Health Team, before the team moved to the new Sengkang General Hospital this year.

Prof Phua said following residents' feedback, the hospital has rolled out an integrated care model, in which patients with many chronic conditions need to make only one appointment and see one doctor - instead of multiple ones.

At the event, Dr Chia Shi-Lu, an MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC who oversees Queenstown, noted that the estate has an estimated population of 100,000 and one of the highest concentrations of elderly residents in the western part of Singapore.

Close to 20 per cent of residents are aged 65 and above, he added, and a significant proportion are at risk of social isolation, or may not be able to manage their chronic illnesses well.

Given that many residents live with multiple chronic illnesses, he said, health screenings will be key to helping them detect diseases and take action before it is too late.

Housewife Lam Lai Peng, 69, a Queenstown resident of over 30 years, is happy that there will be new facilities at Alexandra Hospital, a 20-minute walk from her home. "My 97-year-old mother-in-law stays in the hospital sometimes when she is feeling unwell," she said.

Madam Lam hopes the wider range of facilities and increase in number of beds mean the hospital will be able to cater to the family in case of any emergencies. "It is a lot nearer for us to visit the hospital here, and the taxi fare will be cheaper as well," she said.

Alexandra Hospital provides patients with one-stop services under new care model
Pilot at Alexandra Hospital will see same team caring for patient from admission to discharge
By Felicia Choo, The Straits Times, 15 Dec 2018

It does not matter whether the patient suffers from a single medical condition or has several ailments. Or whether he needs acute care or has moved on to rehabilitation.

Under a new model of care, being piloted in Singapore for the first time at Alexandra Hospital, patients will be cared for by the same team from admission to discharge and stay under the same hospital roof, instead of being moved from an acute hospital to a community one.

Called the integrated general hospital model, it aims to better meet the needs of a growing group of elderly patients, many of whom have multiple medical conditions, said Alexandra Hospital and the Ministry of Health's Office for Healthcare Transformation (MOHT), which collaborated on the initiative.

If successful, the model could be implemented at other hospitals.

Since June this year, 2,500 patients at the hospital have experienced the new model, which integrates acute, sub-acute, rehabilitative and community care.

The patients are cared for by the same team, led by a lead doctor, throughout their admission, treatment, rehabilitation and discharge.

The rest of the team is made up of nurses, pharmacists, therapists, dietitians, medical social workers, care managers and administrators.

This new model can be a game changer, said the hospital's chief executive Jason Phua.

Patients are rehabilitated at the acute hospital instead of at a community hospital, and do not need to be transferred from one to the other. The plan is for acute and rehabilitative care to eventually take place even in the very same ward.

Over time, it is hoped that more patients who require acute hospital care but not complex tertiary specialist treatment can be managed through this new model.

"The lessons we are getting from Alexandra Hospital - we are bringing them back to the National University Hospital (NUH) and Ng Teng Fong General Hospital," said Professor John Eu-Li Wong, chief executive of the National University Health System, which includes Alexandra Hospital.

He added that Ng Teng Fong General Hospital and Jurong Community Hospital could be managed in future as one integrated hospital, while NUH - which is scheduled to be rebuilt - will also take in the lessons from Alexandra Hospital.

Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, MOHT's executive director, said that even with the new integrated general hospital model, the current system of acute and community hospitals is still needed.

"Hospital bed demand is still rising and the current system of acute and community hospitals is serving a current need because without it, we are going to have very congested acute hospitals and possibly, people may not get the rehabilitation we have that they need," he added.

And with more acute and community hospitals located next to each other, it provides options for the integrated general hospital model to be implemented in the future.

The new model is being trialled in the Queenstown area, which has one of the highest concentrations of elderly people in the western part of Singapore - 19 per cent of its nearly 100,000 residents are aged 65 and above.

Singapore, too, is ageing rapidly, with 15.2 per cent of its citizens aged above 65, according to the latest estimates.

MOHT was set up this year to address fundamental issues critical for healthcare transformation.


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