More sick bays for foreign workers at Jurong Penjuru Dormitories

SINGAPORE - In the past, Jurong Penjuru Dormitory 1 and 2 had only one sick bay each.

Up to five foreign workers had to share each sick bay.

Now, the dormitories have eight sick bays each.

Instead of squeezing in five people, each sick bay takes only one patient at a time and comes equipped with cable TV.

The bed sheets and pillowcases are also disposed of after each sick worker leaves. MES Group, which built the dormitories, renovated the old sick bays at a total cost of about $100,000.

A spokesman for MES Group said that since the facilities opened three weeks ago, sick workers now take less time to recover, and morale has improved.

There are now also more beds for sick workers. Previously, Jurong Penjuru Dormitory 1 and 2 had 10 beds for about 15,000 people who lived there.

Now, in line with regulations that require one sick bed per 1,000 workers, there are 16. Eight are in Jurong Penjuru Dormitory 1 while the other eight are in Jurong Penjuru Dormitory 2.

Around one to two workers have used the facilities per week in each dormitory since they opened.

The MES Group spokesman said the eight sick bays in each dormitory are housed in an 80 sq m area, around the size of a standard dormitory room. The old sick bay previously occupied about 50 sq m.

In giving up dormitory space, MES Group said they stand to lose about $2,500 to $4,000 in rent per month.

But the benefits gained from minimising the spread of disease, and looking after the workers' welfare, far outweighs any potential loss in revenue, said the spokesman.

Minister of State for Manpower Sam Tan, who viewed the facilities, said that based on what he saw, MES Group has put in a lot effort to "make the dormitories as habitable as possible".

He said the Government and voluntary welfare organisations have been visiting workers to better understand their concerns and improve their well-being.

He emphasised that they are not just workers who come to here to make a living.

"They're part of the Singaporean greater family."