Speech by Mr Gan Kim Yong, Minister for Health, at the Groundbreaking Ceremony for Sengkang General and Community Hospitals on Sunday, 27 October 2013

Mr Peter Seah,
Chairman of SingHealth,

Professor Ivy Ng,
Group CEO of SingHealth,

Professor Tan Ser Kiat,
Board Member of SingHealth
Chairman, Sengkang Health Project Committee,

Professor Christopher Cheng,
Pro-Tem CEO of Sengkang Health,

 

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen

Introduction

I am happy to be here today to join you for the Groundbreaking Ceremony of Sengkang General and Community Hospitals. This new development is part of the Ministry of Health’s Healthcare 2020 Master Plan to expand our national healthcare capacity.

2. Sengkang is the largest new single hospital development to date. When completed in 2018, the new hospital development will add about 1,400 hospital beds to our national healthcare system.

3. They will enhance access to healthcare services for residents in the north-east region, especially in Sengkang, Punggol, Hougang and Pasir Ris.  The north-east is indeed an exciting and fast growing area, with many new residential developments, parks and waterways.  The population will grow over time.

4. The integrated hospital development will not only serve the young growing population, but also the older communities living nearby especially those in Hougang and Ang Mo Kio. We can thus expect the healthcare needs in the north-east region to grow significantly over the next 20 years, and the Sengkang hospitals will play an important role in meeting this growing demand.

Integrated Care for Residents of the Northeast

5. The co-location of a community hospital with an acute hospital will allow patients who require long-term but less intensive care, to be transferred seamlessly from the acute hospital to the adjacent community hospital. The smooth transition of patients from one care setting to another is important in ensuring that they receive continuous care during their recovery. In addition to the two new Sengkang hospitals, we have also been building and planning for other healthcare facilities in the north-east region. These include the new Brighthill Evergreen nursing home at Punggol East which officially opened yesterday, and the new Punggol polyclinic which will be completed in 2017.

6. With appropriate protocols in place, patients can also be referred from the specialist outpatient clinics (SOCs) to the polyclinics and GPs in the community for the management of their chronic conditions.  I am glad to note that the Sengkang Health team has already been reaching out to GPs in the area, laying the ground work for future collaboration.

A Hospital Built for the Future

7. The challenge to the Sengkang Health team is to build a hospital fit for the future.  As such, the team has incorporated innovative design to maximize space and adopted concepts that allow some of the facilities to be adapted quickly to meet changing demands, while ensuring that the hospitals are able to keep functioning during this period. 

8. In addition, the hospitals are designed to provide convenience and create a pleasant environment for staff and patients and their families. To this end, I understand that the team has incorporated elements of accessibility, comfort and convenience in the hospital design which includes easy wayfinding and connectivity to the neighbouring residential blocks.

9. The hospitals will also provide additional community space for the neighbourhood. I understand that the open plaza on the 1st storey is planned to be the “Community Heart” as it is designed to bring the community together with cafes, retail outlets, seating areas and open spaces for various community engagement activities.  There will also be a wellness garden on the 5th storey rooftop and pocket gardens around the hospitals which will be open to the public, serving as a green oasis in the midst of an urban environment. 

Community Partnerships 

10. Sengkang Health also seeks to value add to the community through forging partnerships with community organizations to promote a healthy lifestyle.  I would like to commend Sengkang Health for their efforts in partnering community organisations to create greater awareness on preventive care. The “Millennia Kids” programme – which Prof Christopher Cheng had just mentioned in his speech – is a prime example of a community-led health promotion activity to cultivate healthier communities. With the many excellent recreational and sporting facilities in this fast-growing part of Singapore, there are indeed many opportunities for Sengkang Health to become a “health-promoting” healthcare system for all, in partnership with agencies such as the Health Promotion Board, community groups and other healthcare providers. I look forward to many more such community initiatives by Sengkang Health in future.

Conclusion

11. I congratulate Sengkang Health on the groundbreaking of Sengkang General and Community Hospitals today.  I am confident that Sengkang Health, under the ambit of SingHealth, is well placed to develop and manage Sengkang General and Community Hospitals to deliver integrated quality health care to patients, especially for those staying in the northeast region of Singapore.

12. Thank you.

 

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