SINGAPORE - A clinic offering affordable and faster care has been a boon for Choa Chu Kang residents with chronic diseases since it opened in April last year.
Keat Hong Family Medicine Clinic helps patients manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and also provides physiotherapy, ultrasound scans and health screening services.
The clinic sees nearly 1,500 patients every month, 60 per cent of whom have chronic diseases. Besides walk-in patients, it also gets patients who are referred by a hospital or polyclinic. Close to 2,500 patients have chosen to have their cases transferred there from the nearby Choa Chu Kang polyclinic.
One advantage of Keat Hong Family Medicine Clinic is its shorter waiting time, said Dr Loke Kam Weng, the clinic's director.
"The average waiting time differs... but we probably can see the patient within 20 minutes, and they should be able to collect their medicine within 40 minutes."
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, who was the guest of honour at the clinic's official opening on Wednesday (March 14), and Mr Zaqy Mohamad, an MP for Choa Chu Kang GRC, were given a tour of the premises.
The clinic is a public-private partnership between the National University Health System and Trilink Healthcare and one of eight family medicine clinics funded by the Health Ministry to bring integrated primary care to the community.
Family medicine clinics pool general practitioners together to provide treatment for chronic diseases, and provide services such as physiotherapy which are usually found only in hospitals.
This is in line with the Health Ministry's push from beyond hospital to community, to make primary care more accessible to Singaporeans.
The 607 sq m clinic, which offers subsidised care under the Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas) and the Pioneer Generation Package, also treats common ailments such as the flu.
Its consultation and medication costs are similar to those at polyclinics. Patients holding a Blue Chas card pay $12 for a long consultation at the clinic, while it costs the same at polyclinics due to other government subsidies. Pioneer-generation patients pay $5 for the same consultation, compared with $3.50 at polyclinics. Without any subsidies, a long consultation costs $53.50 at the Keat Hong clinic, which is about five times the size of a five-room HDB flat.
From June, Keat Hong Family Medicine Clinic will become the first family medicine clinic to treat patients with non-complex eye conditions such as early cataract, stable glaucoma and mild to moderate retinopathy, in partnership with National University Hospital's (NUH) Ophthalmology Department.
It is also the first family medicine clinic to house a community nursing team from NUH which identifies and helps elderly residents living alone and at risk of dementia or falls.
Diabetes patient Abdul Razak Abdul Rahman, 58, finds the clinic much more convenient than Choa Chu Kang Polyclinic for his regular check-ups.
"It's very smooth and... very fast. I can get everything checked at one go," said the member relations officer, who has had Type 2 diabetes for the past three years.