Singapore General Hospital (SGH) is expanding its accident and emergency (A&E) facilities to meet demand.
A 12-storey emergency medicine building, expected to be completed in 2023, will replace the hospital's existing A&E facilities and boast about four times the space of the existing emergency facilities.
Revealing details about the development at the ground-breaking ceremony yesterday, SGH chief executive Kenneth Kwek said the building will double the number of beds in the existing Acute Medical Unit.
There are 67 beds in the cur-rent unit, which serves patients admitted from the Emergency Department.
The new building will be connected to the main hospital complex as well as speciality centres such as the upcoming Outram Community Hospital.
This will allow patients to benefit from a wider range of facilities and the pooled expertise of healthcare staff. It will also reduce patient transfer time.
Senior Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min said at yesterday's ceremony: "The new emergency medicine building will also include isolation rooms and an expanded hospital decontamination station, enhancing SGH's ability to handle disease outbreaks and mass casualty incidents, where there may be patients exposed to hazardous materials."
Demand for emergency care is increasing, especially among people over the age of 65. Last year, they made up a third of emergency patients, up from a quarter a decade earlier.
The existing A&E building, which was built 40 years ago, serves between 300 and 400 patients a day, according to Ministry of Health statistics. The building may be repurposed to house clinical facilities, such as intensive care units, Professor Kwek said.
Members of the public hope that there will be greater efficiency and shorter waiting times when the new building is up and running.
Analyst Nur Liyana, 34, who has been a patient at the current A&E, said the current operation is "better than the A&Es in other hospitals", but added: "The waiting time to see a doctor is still a killer."
Ms Cynthia Lim agreed that the expansion is necessary, especially with the growing number of elderly people in Singapore.
She recalled an incident when she accompanied her late grandmother, who had suffered a fall, to the A&E.
"The experience wasn't too bad, but it did take a while for us to be attended to. And for somebody in pain, it is torturous," said the 23-year-old.
Undergraduate Jane Lim, 22, who took her mother to SGH after she suffered breathing problems, called the new building "a good start".
"The A&E is often really cramped. But even with the facilities and equipment, what we really need are more doctors."
Dr Kenneth Tan, a consultant at SGH's Department of Emergency Medicine, said bringing more specialists together will help.
"With neuroscience and heart specialists all under one roof, we will be able to further enhance treatment and provide faster access to care for stroke and heart attack patients," he said.