Alexandra Hospital to open satellite clinic for geriatrics in Queenstown Polyclinic by December

Participants take part in stretching exercises during Alexandra Hospital's community outreach event at Tanglin Halt on Oct 20, 2019. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Elderly care will be more accessible by December this year when Alexandra Hospital will open its first satellite clinic for geriatrics at Queenstown Polyclinic.

Visits to the satellite clinic will be on a referral basis, meaning that patients should see a general practitioner (GP) first at the polyclinic, which is located between Queenstown and Commonwealth MRT stations.

It will charge lower-than-specialist clinic rates, and provide one-stop geriatric assessment and management for conditions such as dementia, frailty, malnutrition, and fall and fracture risk assessment, it was announced on Sunday (Oct 20).

The hospital said in a statement that about a third of people above the age of 60 in Singapore have had repeated falls.

The number of frail patients has also increased by 35.5 per cent, from 36,208 in 2010 to 49,092 in 2017.

Speaking at a community outreach event at Tanglin Halt on Sunday, Alexandra Hospital chief executive Jason Phua said: "It is important to ensure early comprehensive geriatric care in order to reduce downstream complications such as falls, fragility fractures and hospitalisations."

No-show rates by people who were referred by polyclinics and GPs to hospital clinics can be as high as 30 per cent, especially for those living in one-room or rental units, Dr Phua said.

"Better patient-centred care can also be delivered when age-related conditions are also managed along with the person's multiple other medical conditions at the community level."

Alexandra Hospital said it will co-ordinate with primary care and community partners to identify two to three more heartland locations in the next three years in order to increase the number of satellite clinics, and make geriatric medicine and care more accessible.

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Separately, Alexandra Hospital is also set to open two smart wards in the first half of next year which will allow for the deployment of assistive devices, robotics, artificial intelligence with predictive capability, and other solutions such as smart beds with built-in sensing capabilities to predict and alert patients' conditions.

Consultations with community partners and agencies and members of the public are ongoing. If successful, the smart wards will be adopted throughout the hospital and other member hospitals.

The Land Transport Authority has also given approval for a free hospital-to-hospital shuttle bus to ply a route between the National University Hospital (NUH) emergency department and Alexandra Hospital's 24/7 Urgent Care Centre, from Mondays to Fridays.

Both hospitals are "sibling" hospitals within the same healthcare cluster, and doctors shuttle across both hospitals.

About 50 per cent of Alexandra Hospital's admissions come in via transfers from NUH's emergency department.

This new shuttle service comes after Alexandra Hospital introduced a similar service in August last year - between Queenstown and Commonwealth MRT stations to the hospital - to cater to patients living in rented housing blocks.

Dr Phua also shared the results of an "Integrated General Hospital" pilot care model, under which patients are cared for by a single care team with minimal transfers during their inpatient stay. This aims to reduce processes such as transfers and handovers.

The pilot study, which started on June 1 last year, showed positive outcomes. For example, about a third of 8,424 patients have seen a reduction in appointments and visits to the hospital.

Said Dr Phua: "Our results show it is possible to achieve a healthcare system where healthcare providers, as one care team, revolve around the patient and her needs."

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