NKF to build $12m mega dialysis centre in Jurong

Patients at the Thong Teck Sian Tong Lian Sin Sia NKF Dialysis Centre in Woodlands.
Patients at the Thong Teck Sian Tong Lian Sin Sia NKF Dialysis Centre in Woodlands. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

It will offer 24-hour dialysis, boosting access for patients and easing load of other centres

To cope with rapidly rising kidney failure numbers here, the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is building its largest dialysis centre - a $12 million complex in Jurong with 24-hour dialysis, dedicated to kidney care.

The new facility, 10 times the size of regular centres, is expected to have 200 dialysis stations and will cater to 2,000 patients a week, taking the load off the foundation's 29 other centres - particularly those in the west that are nearly full.

Adding a night dialysis slot enables centres to expand capacity, and also makes going for dialysis more convenient for patients with busy day jobs.

 

NKF is the main dialysis provider here, and nearly all of its 3,800 or so patients have high blood pressure, while three-quarters have diabetes. Both conditions are on the rise in Singapore, and are also leading causes of kidney failure here.

According to the latest Singapore Renal Registry Report, there were 5,521 people on dialysis in 2013, up from 5,244 the year before. It is the only option apart from a transplant, and patients must undergo the procedure for life.

Apart from dialysis, the Corporation Road complex, likely to open in phases starting next year, will teach patients how to carry out peritoneal dialysis - a special form of dialysis that can be done at home.

Plans for the centre were announced by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam yesterday, at the opening of the NKF's first 24-hour dialysis centre in Jurong West, which gives patients more flexibility to choose when they want treatment.

Of the yet-to-open facility, he said it "will greatly expand access to subsidised haemodialysis services to the renal patients in the western region".

He noted, too, that NKF must go beyond offering dialysis services and tackle the problem at its root, through better education and prevention programmes to curb the onset of kidney diseases.

Peritoneal dialysis, which is more convenient and just as effective as dialysis done in the centres, is not common in Singapore, according to NKF chief executive Edmund Kwok, and the new centre will try to change that.

"One of the reasons that people have shied away from it is that they are not very confident they can do it themselves," he said.

"Those who are not very sure, you can come to the (new) centre and we will train you for as long as you need. As you get better, more independent, you will be able to do it yourself."

A third of the funding for the new centre will come from the Sirivadhanabhakdi Foundation, which is based in Thailand and supports medical, religious and educational causes.

The centre will also focus on preventing kidney failure.

"We must redouble our efforts on preventive care," Mr Tharman said. "One in nine adult Singaporeans has diabetes, and the number is growing."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2016, with the headline 'NKF to build $12m mega dialysis centre in Jurong'. Print Edition | Subscribe