Kwong Wai Shiu to become medical hub for elderly

An artist's impression of the Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital after its $96 million expansion is completed in 2017. A new 12-storey building will enable the hospital to double its number of beds to 600. -- PHOTO: KWONG WAI SHIU HOSPITAL
An artist's impression of the Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital after its $96 million expansion is completed in 2017. A new 12-storey building will enable the hospital to double its number of beds to 600. -- PHOTO: KWONG WAI SHIU HOSPITAL

It will provide dementia, neurology and hospice care

The 103-year-old Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital is set to become Singapore's largest nursing home and a medical hub for the elderly when its $96 million expansion is completed by the end of 2017.

A new 12-storey building rising from its present 26,000 sq m site in Serangoon will enable the hospital to double its number of beds to 600, besides providing other facilities, especially those for the old and needy. These include dementia care, neurology care for stroke patients and even hospice services for the terminally ill.

Its existing three-storey building, which has served as the hospital's facade since 1960, will be conserved. So will three single-storey colonial buildings now surrounding a Chinese pavilion built there in 1958.

But the rest of the old buildings will be demolished and the 10,000 sq m land area they occupy returned to the Government.

Revealing the final redevelopment plans to the media earlier this week, hospital chairman Patrick Lee said the Government would pay the bulk of the costs for the new 12-storey building and refurbishing works to be done on the existing ones.

"We still need to raise $20 million and that is our commitment," said the 65-year-old, who is also secretary-general of the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations, the umbrella body for over 200 clan groups here.

Construction of the new building is expected to begin in the first quarter of next year. The hospital will continue to operate as usual during construction.

With the expansion, the hospital's operation costs would go up by at least $10 million annually from about $17 million now, said its chief executive officer Ow Chee Chung.

"The number of staff will also be increased from the present 295 to over 500 when the redevelopment is completed in 2017," the doctor added.

Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital was founded by a group of Cantonese merchants in 1910. That was when three colonial buildings were parcelled off from the Tan Tock Seng Hospital, which was in Serangoon then, and offered to the merchants on a 99-year lease.

In the early years, the hospital provided medical care for their fellow clansmen, mainly those from Guangdong province in China. Now, the hospital caters to everyone, especially the needy.

For several years before the hospital's lease expired in February 2010, it faced an uncertain future.

The dark clouds were lifted only after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong acknowledged the hospital's contributions at its 100th anniversary gala dinner in November 2010. PM Lee also announced that the Government had approved its application to stay and redevelop on its present site in Serangoon.

"We have held many rounds of discussions with the authorities since and hope to make the hospital a one-stop centre to provide as many elder care services as possible, especially for the needy living nearby," said Mr Lee, the hospital's chairman.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong will officiate at the hospital's 103rd anniversary celebrations to be held at its premises in Serangoon tomorrow at 9am.

wengkam@sph.com.sg