Speech by Mr Gan Kim Yong, Minister for Health, at the Official Opening of Yishun Community Hospital, 28 November 2016

Ms Jennie Chua, Chairman, Alexandra Health System,

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

Dr Pauline Tan, CEO, Yishun Community Hospital,

Distinguished Guests,

Parliamentary and MOH colleagues,

Good Morning to all of you!

Introduction

1.        Three years ago, I came here for the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of Yishun Community Hospital (YCH).  Today, I am pleased to be back here again to officially open our newest community hospital. The fact that this hospital is able to be completed on time, on budget, and on target for quality care for patients, we must give the credit to the management team and their staff for their hard work.

2.        Under our Healthcare 2020 Masterplan, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has been building more acute and community hospitals, primary care facilities, as well as aged care facilities.  YCH is a critical piece of this Masterplan, to complement Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) to serve residents staying in the northern region of Singapore.

3.        Over the last five years, we have in fact added several healthcare facilities in this region.  In addition to new nursing home facilities and eldercare centres, just a few months ago, we launched three wellness and care centres in Yishun.  Also known as the “Wellness Kampung”, these centres provide a range of aged care and active ageing services.  There are certainly more to come.  We are adding a new medical centre in Admiralty and a new nursing home in Woodlands Crescent in 2017. We are rebuilding and expanding Yishun polyclinic, which will be ready by 2018.  There will be more eldercare centres across the community.  Healthcare will be more accessible and closer to home, for residents in this part of the island.

Beyond Healthcare 2020 – from Acute Hospitals to the Community

4.        A key direction for the Ministry going forward is to transform care delivery and shift the centre of gravity from acute hospitals to the community.

5.        The community hospital plays an important role in this transformation.  It provides rehabilitation services for patients who need them.  For example, around 40 percent of patients with hip fractures who are treated at acute hospitals can benefit from a community hospital stay.  They are also helpful for patients who need an extended recovery period such as those with pneumonia or those who require complex wound management.  Over time, we see community hospitals expanding their roles to provide more short-term inpatient care for geriatric, dementia and palliative patients.

6.        The community hospital’s focus is to help patients improve their functions and regain confidence such that they will be able to look after themselves when they eventually return home.  The acute and community hospitals should collaborate closely, so that the patient can transit smoothly from the acute hospital to the community hospital and eventually to home. 

7.        This is why we have built new community hospitals, like YCH, just next to the acute hospital, to strengthen this care continuation and integration and to act as a bridge from the acute hospital to the home and the community. 

8.        I am glad to note that YCH has been trying out new innovations on the community hospital model.  YCH is designed to be a “modern tropical kampung” with a natural healing environment.  I am glad to note that since its opening in end December 2015, more than 1,300 patients have benefited from YCH. 

9.        Mr Heng Peng Swan is one such patient.  He is 65 years old. Mr Heng was an active senior who walked to work each day instead of taking the bus.  In late 2015, he met with a road traffic accident and suffered multiple fractures and injuries to both knees.  He was admitted to KTPH for emergency treatment.  When his condition stabilised, he was transferred to YCH to begin his rehabilitation.  With the close proximity of KTPH and YCH, he was transferred, in a hassle-free manner in less than a day.  

10.    For Mr Heng, I am glad to learn that during the rehabilitation stay in YCH, he rediscovered his talent in drawing, thanks to the supportive effort of the art therapy group provided at the YCH.  Mr Heng learnt fine arts when he was a teenager but had not drawn for over 50 years because of various reasons.  The art therapy group lifted Mr Heng’s spirit and helped him re-ignite his passion for drawing and the arts.

11.    With a positive spirit, Mr Heng’s recovered and improved.  The YCH team prepared him for discharge by assessing his home, neighbourhood and making arrangements for rehabilitation sessions, nursing services as well as follow-up consultations.  Now Mr Heng is back in his home – but he still comes back to YCH regularly, not as a patient but to participate in the art sessions and help other patients in their recovery process.

12.    Mr Heng’s case is a good example of the important role that community hospitals such as YCH play, in the seamless continuum of care from hospital to home.

Geriatric Education and Research Institute (GERI)

13.    At the Asia Pacific Geriatrics Conference (APGC) 2016 earlier this August, I spoke about the Geriatric Education and Research Institute, or GERI for short.  GERI is a national institution that will lead the development, coordination and implementation of initiatives to strengthen both geriatrics education and research.  Since March this year, GERI has started work at its new premise in YCH.  But it will go beyond YCH and KTPH to collaborate with other partners.  The findings from GERI’s work will help to inform our healthcare policies and clinical services to improve care provision for our elderly population.  Both YCH and GERI would serve to help Singapore better prepare for the challenges of an ageing population.

Closing

14.    In closing, I want to congratulate YCH on its successful opening and for its good work thus far. I also want to thank the community for its support for the hospital and its work. I encourage YCH to continue to innovate care to serve our senior population in the North even better in years to come.

15.    Congratulations and thank you.

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