To educate more residents on how to prevent kidney diseases, a new dialysis centre in Nee Soon South will double as a community outreach centre.
In a move that is a first for the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) here, the centre at Block 840, Yishun Street 81, will host activities such as health screenings, nutrition workshops and exercise classes for residents. Other than patients, dialysis centres are usually not open to the public.
Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam and Nee Soon GRC grassroots organisations adviser Lee Bee Wah officially opened the centre at the annual Nee Soon South Community Health Fair yesterday morning.
Funded by the Singapore Contractors Association Limited (Scal) and the Government, the $1.9 million Scal-NKF Dialysis Centre has 14 dialysis stations that can treat up to 84 patients at a time.
Patients can choose to wait for dialysis treatment at the community area, where they are able to interact closely with residents as well.
"By bringing education and prevention programmes to the community's doorstep, we believe that (the centre) will continue to imbue the spirit of inclusiveness and community bonding," NKF chairman Koh Poh Tiong said in his opening address.
With a new case of kidney disease diagnosed every five hours, NKF dialysis centres are "operating at near-full capacity" to support about 4,000 needy patients, he said, adding that the new centre is a "welcome relief" for many Nee Soon residents.
Ms Lee said she has seen an increasing number of residents who need dialysis. She added: "Quite often, I will have to write an appeal letter for them to transfer to a centre that is nearer to home... Now that it is just at their doorstep, it saves them time and transport costs."
Housewife Low Cheng Koon, 51, used to spend an hour travelling by bus for dialysis treatment. Now, it will take her a 15-minute walk.
"Walking to the centre in the morning is also a form of exercise for me," she said. "After that, I can buy my groceries nearby before going home to cook. It's definitely more convenient."
The centre also features a new queue system that allows patients to undergo treatment using any available dialysis chair. Previously, they would be allocated one for their session, which would add to the waiting time when there were delays.
High-dependency patients can also be moved nearer to the nurses as the dialysis chairs at the new centre are fitted with wheels.
Some 200 Nee Soon residents attended the health screening at yesterday's fair.