Surge at A&Es as TTSH limits intake; Sengkang wards full

It is not known if the sudden surge in patients is related to the recent developments at Tan Tock Seng Hospital. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - The wards at Sengkang General Hospital (SKH) are now fully filled, after the 1,000-bed facility had to grapple with a sudden surge in patients to its emergency department over the past three days.

It is not the only one facing a crunch.

Singapore General Hospital (SGH) and Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) have also reported a sudden spike in patients coming through emergency.

The influx of patients in recent days - which could be a result of Tan Tock Seng Hospital curtailing its intake of new patients - has prompted multiple hospitals to post advisories on their Facebook pages that those suffering from non-critical ailments should seek help from a general practitioner (GP) or polyclinic instead.

SKH, SGH, KTPH, Changi General, National University and Ng Teng Fong General Hospital all posted advisories.

TTSH is tackling a growing Covid-19 cluster that began in one of its wards and resulted in the lockdown of four wards.

As part of measures to ringfence the cluster, non-critical cases are being diverted from its emergency department to other medical facilities and hospitals.

The Ministry of Health did not respond by press time to queries on whether the sudden influx at hospitals was linked to the TTSH situation.

At SKH on Saturday (May 1) afternoon, however, there was no queue at the emergency department, although a woman there said it was very crowded when she arrived at around noon.

SPH Brightcove Video
Tan Tock Seng Hospital has been on the front line since Covid-19 hit Singapore's shores.
Now, it is at the centre of an outbreak with 13 linked cases of Covid-19 and more expected to be confirmed.

The 31-year-old software engineer, who did not want to be identified, was with her maid, who had not stopped vomiting since being vaccinated on Friday.

"It was very crowded and there were queues, but the staff attended to her immediately, because it was a priority case," she said.

Mr Benami Chiam, 31, who works in a bank, said he was there with his elderly mother at about 2pm, seeking a consultation for her back pain.

"There was actually no one in the emergency department at the time, and we walked directly in," he said.

He said he had taken her there instead of a GP as she had an upcoming scan at the hospital.

"I feel the hospital has better medical facilities and can diagnose her better," he said, noting that the whole process took less than half an hour.

The Pharmacy Emergency Department at Sengkang General Hospital on May 1, 2021. ST PHOTO: MOHD KHALID BABA

Both parties said the situation at TTSH had not affected their decision to go to SKH.

At SGH, there appeared to be an increased security presence.

In response to queries, Dr Kenneth Tan, head and senior consultant at SGH's Department of Emergency Medicine, sought the public's understanding and patience.

He said: "We are seeing a higher-than-usual daily number of patients at our emergency department. We do not turn away any patient who comes to our emergency department to seek medical attention."

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