SINGAPORE - When Mrs Shenbagam Bala's family members fell ill, they would usually visit Jurong Polyclinic about half an hour away, or visit a pricey private clinic nearby.
Not anymore. Now, they can go to Pioneer Polyclinic, which opened on Monday (July 17).
Mrs Bala, 38, who lives in Block 63D, Jurong West Street 64 - about a 10-minute walk from the polyclinic - said: "We feel comfortable since we can now bring our children with us and see the doctor almost immediately. It's very convenient and affordable for us."
The housewife is married to a 40-year-old biotechnologist, and they have a seven-year-old daughter.
The polyclinic, located in Jurong West Street 61, will serve more than 270,000 residents in the Jurong West area. Before this, Jurong Polyclinic in Jurong East was their nearest option.
In the first two weeks, the polyclinic saw between 400 and 500 patients daily, but this number is expected to go up to 1,000 daily.
Pioneer Polyclinic - the first polyclinic to open in more than 10 years - boasts several pioneering features. It is the first in Singapore to automate its pharmacy registration process as part of its drive to boost efficiency by harnessing technology.
It is also the first to pair patients suffering from chronic diseases like diabetes with a dedicated care team whenever they visit the polyclinic, said Pioneer Polyclinic head David Tan.
The scheme is being rolled out in other polyclinics in Singapore.
Under this system, patients and their family members will be paired with a team that comprises two doctors, one nurse and one care coordinator. The team will see the patient and their family members every time they visit the polyclinic, to increase efficiency and build familiarity between patients and healthcare professionals, Dr Tan added.
The polyclinic now has three such teams, and each team will be assigned up to 6,000 patients.
In three years, the polyclinic hopes to ramp this up to five teams. They will take care of as many as 30,000 patients with chronic conditions, said National University Polyclinics chief executive Lew Yii Jen.
Pioneer Polyclinic also works closely with the community. For instance, it showcases paintings by students of the neighbouring Jurong West Primary School, and its doctors have conducted health, diet and career talks for the pupils.