Organisations worked as one to overcome challenges in setting up Covid-19 care facility at Expo

The organisations were driven by a common purpose to get the job done. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF HEALTH
Workers moving what appears to be cabinets into Singapore Expo Hall 3 on April 6, 2020. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - When operations at the community care facility at Singapore Expo first began, it could take up to only 450 patients in one hall.

In six weeks, it ramped up its capacity to 8,500 across 10 halls.

This achievement was the effort of many different organisations, who pulled their resources and expertise together even as they met challenges, such as having to set up the facility during the circuit breaker, said PSA International group chief executive Tan Chong Meng.

Along the way, they had to make several changes, such as having to put two beds per cubicle instead of the originally planned one bed, so as to double the capacity.

Participants of the Temasek Trust Conversation on Tuesday (Nov 3) heard a first-hand account from Mr Tan of the challenges that the organisations encountered and overcame while building the community care facility at Singapore Expo, which was converted in April.

Temasek Trust is the philanthropic arm of Singapore investment firm Temasek.

Another challenge was sourcing for the items required such as beds and partitions, participants heard.

At one point, when converting halls 7 to 10, the team ran out of partitions, and had to scour Singapore for them, but ended up with a different type of partitions from that used in the first few halls.

The team worked hours on end before the first hall was ready in six days, participants heard.

Multiple toilets had to be built as an exhibition hall would not regularly be equipped to have people showering by the dozen.

A safe corridor also had to be built for the medical personnel to go through to minimise their exposure while performing their duties, and that took engineering effort.

When the team took the leap to open the facility on April 10, the obstacles did not cease then.

That evening, the first group of 20 patients were sent in two batches. But the second batch were nine men and one woman, which posed a problem as the facility could handle only one gender at a time as there was no segregation.

She had to be sent back, said Mr Tan.

Other incidents included a false fire alarm leading to the shutters going up and a loss of segregation between the "clean" and "dirty" areas and missing shower handles.

Many organisations chipped in to manage the large community care facility and all were driven by a common purpose to get the job done, said Mr Tan.

These included Surbana Jurong, SingEx, Certis, PSA International, ST Engineering, the Ministry of Health, Woodlands Health Campus, Parkway Pantai, Sheares Healthcare and Resorts World Sentosa.

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