The upgraded Singapore General Hospital (SGH) Burn Centre opened yesterday as the Ministry of Health (MOH) also announced plans to redevelop the burns capability at other hospitals here.
The SGH Burn Centre, which was first opened in 1962, now features a modular design that allows either side of the facility to be closed off during a mass burns incident to reduce the risk of cross-contamination between existing and new patients.
The centre, which underwent $6 million, 15-month upgrading works in phases, also has two operating theatres with a custom-built climate control system that creates a low-humidity environment to prevent bacteria growth in patients, and maintain a warm temperature to lower their risk of hypothermia due to extensive skin destruction or loss.
Senior Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min, who attended the opening of the centre, said: "In the last decade, advances in burns management, education and research have led to lower incidences of burn-related death and disability in the Asia-Pacific region."
"While we continue to dedicate resources to improve clinical outcomes and support public education and prevention programmes, it is also important to build up capabilities, capacity and research efforts to ensure that our healthcare teams remain well equipped to manage episodic cases as well as major incidents with a high number of casualties with burn injuries," he added.
Dr Lam was speaking at the opening ceremony of the 12th Asia Pacific Burn Congress held at Academia on the SGH campus.
More than 500 local and overseas practitioners and experts from 22 countries will be participating in the three-day programme.
The improved facilities at the SGH Burn Centre - which is the major burns referral centre for South-east Asia - will enable it to cater to both current and anticipated needs, as well as respond more readily during mass burns incidents, said Professor Fong Kok Yong, deputy group chief executive (medical and clinical services) of SingHealth.
The centre's 10 high-dependency and isolation rooms can be converted into intensive care unit wards. This maximises care delivery based on the condition and needs of patients.
Dr Lam said MOH plans to redevelop the burns capability in other hospitals, such as KK Women's and Children's Hospital, to improve Singapore's overall systems capacity for burns management.
The ministry will also be supporting burns manpower training through cross training among healthcare institutions and overseas attachments, so that staff can familiarise themselves with burns protocols.
At the congress, the Asia Pacific Burn Association announced a new set of skin banking guidelines to ensure common safety standards and practices for skin donor screening, recovery, processing, storage and distribution across the region.
The guidelines aim to expedite the exchange of donated skin during a crisis and facilitate closer collaboration between the association's members, which include China, India, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore.