Sunday 8 December 2019

Outram Community Hospital opens next to Singapore General Hospital

It has facilities resembling a public estate to help patients adapt before returning home
By Aw Cheng Wei, The Sunday Times, 8 Dec 2019

The Republic's ninth community hospital was opened yesterday in Outram, the first community hospital providing step-down care in southern Singapore where government figures show there is a higher proportion of patients aged 65 years and older.

Outram Community Hospital (OCH) has been designed and furnished to resemble a public estate, so patients can learn how to adapt before they return home.

For example, the hospital has facilities that resemble the interiors of buses and trains, for patients to learn to navigate the public transport system using a wheelchair.

When the hospital is fully opened over the next three years, it will add 545 beds to the healthcare system, the Health Ministry said.

Speaking at its soft opening, Senior Minister of State for Law and Health Edwin Tong said hospitals are seeing more frail patients who require a longer period of care.

Community hospitals, he added, play the important role of enabling patients to recover their functions and assist them to transit easier from acute hospitals to home.

Patients at OCH can perform rehabilitation exercises at the hospital's rooftop garden, where they can work on navigating different terrain such as stairs, slopes and rocky paths. There are also simulated pedestrian crossings there.

Retired cashier Tng Sai Choo, 76, chose to recuperate at OCH after her knee replacement surgery last month because it is closer to her five-room flat in Telok Blangah, where she lives with her nephew and his wife.

She is expected to be discharged by the middle of this month.

Her other option was to go to Bright Vision Hospital off Yio Chu Kang Road, a choice that would have added 30 minutes in travelling time for her sister Thng Lay Choo.

Ms Tng, who is single and works part-time at a McDonald's outlet in Alexandra Retail Centre, said in Mandarin: "My siblings live near my block, and it is easier for them to visit me at Outram Community Hospital."

Madam Thng, 63, a retired principal of a kindergarten, said: "I visit my sister almost every day... This hospital is more convenient to get to for me."

At the hospital's groundbreaking ceremony in 2015, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong had said that the Bukit Merah area, which the hospital is close to, has the second-highest number of residents aged 65 and above in Singapore.

The profile of patients visiting Singapore General Hospital (SGH) is also getting older, he had said then. About 40 per cent or 32,000 of SGH's inpatient discharges involved patients aged 65 and above.

Mr Tong said that inpatient hospitalisation was often episodic and short when the population was younger so the Government concentrated its efforts on building acute hospitals.

But as the population ages, the Government is responding by building community hospitals to meet changing healthcare needs.

SingHealth Community Hospital's chief executive Margaret Lee said that OCH's close proximity to SGH can help members of its care team familiarise themselves with incoming patients' conditions.

"Our care team has the advantage of meeting incoming patients first at the SGH wards... This lets us plan their care plans early for a seamless transition and a quicker recovery," she said.

Doctors from SGH can also review their patients admitted in OCH if necessary, she added.


* New Outram Community Hospital officially opened on 24 January 2022
By Linette Lai, Health Correspondent, The Straits Times, 24 Jan 2022

After two years in operation - during which it helped to bolster Singapore's hospital bed capacity when Covid-19 cases surged - the Outram Community Hospital (OCH) was officially opened on Monday (Jan 24).

It is part of a $4 billion, 20-year revamp of buildings on the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) campus, and occupies six floors in the new SingHealth Tower, also officially opened on Monday.

"Every building that comes online brings with it new infrastructure... and more importantly, our opportunity to transform care," said SingHealth chief executive Ivy Ng at the opening ceremony.

"The more complex care becomes, the more simple it has to be for patients to navigate through our system."

The new National Cancer Centre Singapore is slated to open later this year as part of the revamp, with SGH's Emergency Medicine Building to start operations from 2024.

This will be followed by the SGH Elective Care Centre and National Dental Centre Singapore in 2027, with a second phase involving the addition of a new SGH Complex and improved road network.

These developments are part of the Government's continuous investment in public infrastructure, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, who attended the event in person.

"Beyond the investment of resources, the entire project requires very meticulous planning and execution. For example, services and roads need to be carefully shifted so as not to disrupt operations in one of the busiest and oldest hospitals in Singapore," he said.

The new 545-bed community hospital will look after patients who no longer need the acute care provided by a general hospital, but are not well enough to return home.

These include those who have undergone knee replacements, or had hip fractures or strokes. They can also include Covid-19 patients who have recovered from the virus but are elderly and frail, with existing medical conditions that require rehabilitation.

To help in their recovery, OCH has a special facility set up to mimic a two-room flat, allowing patients to practise performing daily activities.

The community hospital also takes in patients who require palliative care and those with dementia.

Also housed in the 19-storey SingHealth Tower are SGH's administrative and logistics staff, as well as the hospital's central kitchen and sterile supplies unit - from which food and medical supplies are delivered to the rest of the complex via a network of underground tunnels.

These are the "silent workers in the background", Mr Ong said, adding: "They are essential to any organisation... However, in this age of social media and round-the-clock running of the publicity machinery, we can easily forget their vital contribution, until something goes wrong."

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