First Covid-19 stepped-up community facility in Tampines starts receiving patients

An elderly Covid-19 patient at the NTUC Health nursing home in Tampines on Sept 23, 2021. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Staff donning full PPE at the NTUC Health nursing home in Tampines on Sept 23, 2021, its first day as a stepped-up community treatment facility for Covid-19 patients. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
The Covid-19 patients at the facility will include the elderly and those who have chronic illnesses such as cardiac, neurological or respiratory diseases. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - The first patients arrived at Singapore's first Covid-19 stepped-up community treatment facility (CTF) in Tampines when it opened on Thursday (Sept 23).

At around 11am, three Covid-19 patients were seen alighting from specially hired vehicles along Tampines Street 22, where the facility is located.

Staff donning personal protective equipment (PPE) rolled out wheelchairs to receive two of them, both elderly women, one of whom wore a fever patch on her forehead.

The drivers of the three vehicles also wore PPE. The front windows of the cars were rolled down.

The third patient was an elderly man, who wore a cap.

The CTF, at the site of NTUC Health Nursing Home (Tampines), has been repurposed and fitted with 250 beds meant for Covid-19 patients who are generally well but have underlying health conditions that require close monitoring, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) in a Facebook post on Thursday afternoon (Sept 23).

These patients will include the elderly and those who have chronic illnesses such as cardiac, neurological or respiratory diseases. Those with comorbidities, such as hypertension and diabetes, can also be admitted to the CTF.

Infected nursing home residents will be prioritised for admission to prevent further spread in such facilities.

Stepped-up CTFs will help to ensure that the limited capacity in hospitals is reserved for only Covid-19 patients who need close and specialised medical attention - such as oxygen supplementation or intensive care.

"This will augment our hospital capacity, and allow us to provide treatment for the seriously ill patients in our hospitals," MOH said in the post.

Previously referred to as a stepped-up community care facility, the Tampines facility will have more medical and nursing staff than a typical nursing home. The CTF will also be equipped with medical monitoring devices, said MOH.

In a statement to The Straits Times, Woodlands Health said that equipment for measuring vital signs is available at the CTF. For additional diagnostic requirements, handheld ultrasound devices will be used.

Woodlands Health added that it worked with NTUC Health and Resorts World Sentosa, the managing agent, to set up the facility.

Existing residents at the NTUC Health nursing home have been transferred to other branches.

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Several other CCFs will also have a proportion of their beds converted to stepped-up types, such as having medical monitoring devices.

For instance, the CCF at the Singapore Expo's Connect@Changi, which is run by Raffles Medical, will have 50 such beds by Friday.

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