Community hospitals to play bigger role in patient care in the future: Gan Kim Yong

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong (second from left) at the official opening of Yishun Community Hospital.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong (second from left) at the official opening of Yishun Community Hospital.ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

SINGAPORE - Community hospitals, like the one in Yishun which was officially opened on Monday (Nov 28), will play a bigger role in caring for patients in the future.

They are part of the transformation of healthcare under the Healthcare 2020 Masterplan to "shift the centre of gravity from acute hospitals to the community", said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong.

"Over time, we see community hospitals expanding their roles to provide more short-term inpatient care for geriatric, dementia and palliative patients," he said.

It is much cheaper to run a community hospital where the nurse to patient ratio is one to 16, which means one nurse can look after four times the number of patients compared to a general hospital.

Mr Gan said two in five hip fracture patients can benefit from a stay in a community hospital, as can patients with pneumonia or who require complex wound management.

He said: "The community hospital's focus is to help patients improve their functions and regain confidence such that they will be able to look after themselves when they eventually return home."

A ward in Yishun Community Hospital. ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

Yihsun Community Hospital (YCH), which officially opened on Monday and is linked to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH), has cared for more than 1,400 patients since it became operational in December last year.

The hospital has opened 238 of its 428 beds and is currently 60 per cent full, while the adjacent KTPH faces a bed crunch with occupancy hovering at around 90 per cent.

YCH's chief executive officer, Dr Pauline Tan, said: "KTPH is an acute care hospital designed to offer 'fast medicine' for ill patients with short episodic care. Treatment is prompt and precise.

"However, for patients who do require longer term sub-acute care and rehabilitation, the acute hospital is not where they should remain."

Madam Oh Quee Eng, 80, loves the spaciousness and cleanliness of YCH, as well as the friendly staff there. She had undergone a knee operation at KTPH where she stayed for three days before being moved to YCH where she has been undergoing rehabilitation for the past 10 days.

She enjoys interacting with the children from The Little Skool-House, who spend an hour with patients every Tuesday. The Little Skool-House provides nursery and kindergarten services for children of staff as well as from the neighbourhood.

Natalie Sim, six, said she, too, enjoys the sessions. "It's very fun," she said. "I make them (the patients) happy, and we play fun games. They smile, they are not sad."