Ng Teng Fong hospital opening ahead of schedule

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Health Minister Gan Kim Yong visited patients, including Mr Chionh Koek, 62 (above), at the Ng Teng Fong General Hospital yesterday. Mr Lee spent about two hours touring the hospital and the adjoining 400-bed Jurong
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Health Minister Gan Kim Yong visited patients, including Mr Chionh Koek, 62 (above), at the Ng Teng Fong General Hospital yesterday. Mr Lee spent about two hours touring the hospital and the adjoining 400-bed Jurong Community Hospital.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Officially opened by PM Lee yesterday, 500 of its 700 beds are already in use

The Ng Teng Fong General Hospital in Jurong East has put more wards into use ahead of schedule, but is still facing high occupancy rates of 80 per cent.

The hospital, which took in its first patient on June 30, started operating with 365 beds. Today, 500 of its 700 beds are in use.

The hospital's chief executive officer, Mr Foo Hee Jug, said: "We are indeed opening ahead of schedule. We found that we were operationally ready and would like to add to the national capacity as soon as possible."

He plans to open one more ward of 64 beds by year end, and will need to recruit more doctors and senior nurses.

At the official opening of the hospital by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday, Mr Foo rattled off some impressive figures. In just 102 days, the hospital has treated 31,000 patients at its clinics, 16,300 patients in its wards, and 19,000 patients at its emergency department.

But he stressed the need to work closely with doctors, grassroots leaders and others to keep people in the region healthy.

The Prime Minister, who spent about two hours touring the hospital and the adjoining 400-bed Jurong Community Hospital, said these new hospitals were developed with patients in mind.

The fan-shaped wards provide windows for every patient, no matter which class of ward they are in.

Said PM Lee: "It gives them lots of natural light, greenery outside, at least when there is no haze, and every patient with good ventilation, good views. Lift your spirits, recover faster."

To patients, the two hospitals operate as one. A patient who has surgery in the general hospital and recovers in the community hospital will get just one bill for his stay.

Mr Foo said the integrated development gives economies of scale, with both hospitals sharing one kitchen, one management team and electronic medical records.

The hospitals are eco-friendly, using 40 per cent less potable water than a conventional hospital, and the 550 solar panels completely take care of their hot water and landscape lighting needs.

One patient who gave two thumbs-up to the hospital is Mr Mohamad Salleh Arshad, 56, a diabetic. When he was told he needed to have his right leg amputated, he told the doctors he would rather die.

But they convinced him that life is what he makes of it. "They are so caring. The doctors, the nurses, they are so good to me," he said.

Yesterday, he sang English and Hokkien songs and had the VIPs, including PM Lee and Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, cheering him on.

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WHAT IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN

In yesterday's report, "Ng Teng Fong Hospital opening ahead of schedule", we said it has had 16,300 patients in its wards. The figure should be 6,300. We are sorry for the error.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 11, 2015, with the headline 'Ng Teng Fong hospital opening ahead of schedule'. Print Edition | Subscribe