Speech by Minister Gan Kim Yong at Yishun Community Hospital Topping Out Ceremony, 10 Apr 2015

My Parliamentary Colleague, Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim,

Ms Jennie Chua, Chairman, Alexandra Health System,

Mr Liak Teng Lit, Group CEO, Alexandra Health System,

Dr Pauline Tan, CEO, Yishun Community Hospital,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

         Good morning to all of you. It gives me great pleasure to join you this morning at the topping out ceremony for Yishun Community Hospital (YCH). When ready, it will add some 400 community hospital beds to our overall healthcare capacity.

2          YCH is part of the pipeline of new healthcare facilities planned under the Healthcare 2020 Masterplan. Under the Masterplan, MOH is building more acute and community hospitals, more primary care facilities, as well as more aged care facilities to better support a growing and ageing population in Singapore, in the years ahead.

Bringing Care to Residents in the North

3          In the past few years, we have steadily enhanced the provision of care services for Singaporeans living in the northern part of Singapore, given the growing population in this region.

4          Since the opening of the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) in 2010, in addition to providing acute care services to Singaporeans residing in the north, the hospital has also brought additional preventive health and other community-based care services to the population here.

5          For example, KTPH provides a number of health screening programmes – such as eye and chronic disease screening – for the population in the north. It also runs the popular “Mini Medical School”, a health education programme to empower the population here to take charge of their health. In addition, KTPH established the Ageing-in-Place programme as well as a transitional care programme, to support frail patients in the community. It has deployed a network of community nurses at communal facilities such as Community Centres (CCs) and Resident Committee (RCs) within the region to monitor the health of our seniors and provide health advice when necessary. They also visit the homes of patients. The 10 Community Nurse Posts have seen 13,700 walk-in visits by residents, while 2,200 patients have benefited from the Community Nurse Home Visit Programme since the AIP started in 2011.

6          New nursing homes, such as Singapore Christian Home and Villa Francis, and more recently, All Saints Home in Yishun, have opened to serve residents in this region. We are also in the midst of planning the development of a network of three Wellness and Care centres across Yishun. These centres will provide integrated services to keep seniors healthy, active and engaged in the community when they are well, and take care of them when they are sick.

7          The upcoming YCH, which is located next to KTPH, will provide continuing care and support patients through the recovery process. Over the next few years, residents in the north can look forward to new healthcare facilities and service developments, such as Admiralty Medical Centre, Sembawang Primary Care Centre and Woodlands Integrated Healthcare Campus in the future. The Yishun polyclinic will also be redeveloped. Taken as a whole, these projects will provide a holistic suite of healthcare services – spanning acute, specialist care, primary care and long-term care – to make sure that residents living in the northern part of Singapore will be well supported to live healthily and happily.

Patient-Centred Care through the Regional Health Systems (RHSes) 

8          But just adding capacity is not enough – healthcare providers must also work together to provide seamless and continuous care for patients. This is why MOH has grouped healthcare institutions into Regional Health Systems (or RHSes), to bring about greater integration of care across the different stages of a patient’s care journey. Acute hospitals are paired with community hospitals, polyclinics and other healthcare services, to facilitate better coordination of care for the benefit of patients and their families.

9          With the co-location of YCH and KTPH, we expect that there will also be close collaboration in the management of patients needing rehabilitation and sub-acute services. When YCH opens progressively from the end of this year, it will play an important role in providing sub-acute and rehabilitation services for patients, to improve their recovery from acute illness, regain their functional status, and re-integrate them into the community and eventually, to be able to go home.  

10        When I visited KTPH on Chinese New Year, I already saw patients with hip fracture experiencing good rehabilitation and recovery after surgery, as a result of the multi-disciplinary, team-based hip fracture integrated care path. With the new Yishun Community Hospital just next door, the KTPH team and the YCH team will share the care path, and ensure that KTPH patients are transferred seamlessly and expediently to undergo further rehabilitation and therapy at YCH. Through integration of care, the patients recover faster and have shorter stay, overall, in the hospitals. Beyond supporting the acute hospital, YCH will also be providing consultation services to support nursing homes and home care providers in the region.

Construction of YCH

11        Today’s topping out ceremony is a milestone in YCH’s construction. I understand that the construction has been a complex and challenging one, given the close proximity to KTPH and the residential areas. The good progress on YCH was the result of the hard work of many of its partners – in particular, the contractors, Kimly and Shimizu, who had taken innovative steps, such as the off-site fabrication of structural elements. This has reduced the noise and dust emissions on site, minimising the disturbances to patients and residents. It has also helped to speed up construction time.

Conclusion

12        In closing, let me congratulate Alexandra Health System for marking this milestone in the construction of Yishun Community Hospital today. As the network of healthcare services provided by Alexandra Health System continues to grow, the Khoo Teck Puat hospital and Yishun Community Hospital teams must work with their Regional Health System partners to collectively deliver integrated care across the different healthcare providers in the northern region of Singapore, for residents in the neighbourhood to stay healthy and well.

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