Rolling out free TCM healthcare to elderly and needy

For two hours every Thursday night, the drop-off point at Blk 64 Kallang Bahru transforms into a clinic for the elderly and needy.
Kwan-In Welfare Society's mobile clinic in operation at Block 64 Kallang Bahru (far left). TCM physician Xie Xi Er, who has been volunteering with the organisation for more than 20 years, attending to a patient (left).
Kwan-In Welfare Society's mobile clinic in operation at Block 64 Kallang Bahru. TCM physician Xie Xi Er, who has been volunteering with the organisation for more than 20 years, attending to a patient (above).PHOTOS: ST VIDEO
Kwan-In Welfare Society's mobile clinic in operation at Block 64 Kallang Bahru (far left). TCM physician Xie Xi Er, who has been volunteering with the organisation for more than 20 years, attending to a patient (left).
Kwan-In Welfare Society's mobile clinic in operation at Block 64 Kallang Bahru (above). TCM physician Xie Xi Er, who has been volunteering with the organisation for more than 20 years, attending to a patient.PHOTOS: ST VIDEO

Every Thursday night, the drop-off porch at Block 64, Kallang Bahru, transforms into a clinic for the elderly and needy.

Portable furniture is laid out, and volunteer medical workers work out of a mobile clinic from 7pm to 9pm. The pharmacy, equipped with 136 kinds of liquid medicines and 16 types of pills, operates out of the back of a modified truck.

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) physician Xie Xi Er said: "When we started out, we were the first charity organisation to have a mobile clinic." The 71-year-old has been a volunteer at Kwan-In Welfare Society for more than 20 years.

Since 1975, the society has been providing free TCM services to the needy in Singapore. Back then, the charity organisation sent mobile clinics to remote kampungs where access to medical care was limited.

At its peak in the 1980s, the charity organisation operated seven mobile clinics. Today, it runs two mobile clinics that travel to 10 housing estates, six nights a week.

Each mobile clinic is usually run by five volunteers - two internal medicine physicians, an acupuncture physician, a driver who doubles as an administrative worker, and a pharmacist.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2017, with the headline 'Rolling out free TCM healthcare to elderly and needy'. Print Edition | Subscribe