Speech by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Health, at the HealthCity Novena (HCN) Day 2017, 21 Mar 2017

Chairman, Board Members and CEOs of National Healthcare Group, Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Dover Park Hospice

Community Leaders,

Healthcare Partners,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1.            A very good morning to one and all. It is indeed my pleasure to join you this morning at the HealthCity Novena Day. 

2.            In 2013, MOH and NHG launched the HealthCity Novena (HCN) masterplan with three main objectives.  First, it is a key component of MOH’s overall Healthcare 2020 strategy to build up capacity to cater for the future healthcare needs of Singaporeans.  

3.            Second, with its increased provision of rehabilitative and community-oriented care services, HealthCity Novena also has the potential to develop new and innovative care models, which cut across healthcare settings and provide more seamless, integrated care for patients, especially those living in the Central region of Singapore. 

4.            Lastly, to support learning and innovation, and nurturing the next generation of healthcare professionals. The Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Singapore’s third and newest medical school, just opened its new building on this campus a few weeks ago.

5.            Today, we mark two more major milestones for HealthCity Novena – first, the topping-out of the National Centre for Infectious Diseases and the adjoining Centre for Healthcare Innovation, and second, the groundbreaking of the Integrated Care Hub. 

6.            These two milestone developments play different, but very important, roles in supporting the objectives of the HealthCity Novena plan and in meeting Singapore’s needs for critical healthcare services.

Meeting future healthcare needs – the National Centre for Infectious Disease

7.            Given the extent of global travel today, we must always be on our guard against imported cases of infectious diseases of public health concern.  The new National Centre for Infectious Diseases will play a critical and unique role in the prevention and management of infectious disease outbreaks in Singapore.  The new facility will integrate multiple functions, from public health surveillance, to clinical disease management, to national research and training of healthcare professionals in the field of infectious disease.

8.            In the area of public health surveillance, it will house the National Public Health Laboratory and the National Public Health and Epidemiology Unit, both of which will work closely with MOH to promptly diagnose and detect emerging threats, to safeguard the health of all Singaporeans.

9.            As the key centre for the clinical management of infectious diseases, the new NCID will replace the century-old Communicable Diseases Centre (CDC) on Moulmein Road and the CDC2 facilities beside TTSH. In fact, I remember CDC, ever since I was young. I think many of us remember the CDC. It will contain state-of-the-art facilities to ensure that it is future-ready for large outbreaks, and is able to manage even highly infectious diseases safely.  In a non-outbreak or “peacetime” scenario, NCID would also have some capacity to take in selected patients from TTSH who have been assessed suitable for transfer to NCID.   These patients will continue to be under the care and management of TTSH’s medical team, as required. 

10.         The new NCID is indeed an important investment in Singapore’s critical healthcare infrastructure, to significantly boost Singapore’s capacity, capability and confidence in protecting our people from the threat of infectious diseases. 

From Hospital to Community – the Integrated Care Hub

11.         The Integrated Care Hub (or ICH) plays a different role in supporting our future healthcare needs.  As part of our Healthcare 2020 plans, MOH has been expanding capacity and healthcare services to meet the growing demand of such services arising from an ageing population. However, as mentioned during the recent Parliamentary debate on the healthcare budget, we need to move beyond Healthcare 2020 and transform our healthcare system.

12.         We need to make three key shifts: (1) to move beyond the hospital to the community, (2) to move beyond quality to value, and (3) to move beyond healthcare to health. 

13.         The ICH is part of our efforts to move beyond hospital-centric healthcare to care in the community. The Central region, which NHG serves, has a higher proportion of seniors compared to the rest of Singapore. The elderly are more likely to face complex health issues and are at risk of being re-admitted into hospitals if they do not receive proper care within the community and at home.

14.         The ICH will provide the crucial link between the acute hospital and community care. As its name suggests, it will bring together rehabilitation, sub-acute care, and palliative care services under one roof.

15.         TTSH will shift its current rehabilitation services to the new ICH, to serve patients with functional impairments, including those with higher intensity, more complex rehabilitation needs, to help them regain sufficient mobility and confidence to cope with their daily lives.

16.         Mr Tan Whee Boon is an example of a patient who has benefitted from rehabilitation at TTSH.  Mr Tan lost his limbs after severe food poisoning linked to Group B Streptococcus (GBS) infection in July 2015. He underwent intense rehabilitation to regain some mobility and ability to carry out daily tasks on his own and sometimes, with the help of his family members.

17.         Today, Mr Tan is able to walk with his prosthetic legs and use his prosthetic hands. He also plays for the Singapore wheelchair rugby team!  I salute Mr Tan for his courage, and his tenacity. 

18.         His story is indeed a testimony to the important role which rehabilitation plays in supporting patients, as they work towards overcoming adversity and continue to live their lives fully and purposefully.

19.         Mr Tan’s example illustrates the key role of ICH, which is to prepare for patients’ eventual discharge, improve their medical condition and thereby integrate them back into the community, into the workplace, and home.

20.         Finally, ICH will be the new home for Dover Park Hospice, or DPH, which is currently at Novena campus. The new DPH will double its bed capacity to better serve patients who are terminally ill, offering them dignity and privacy during the final phase of their lives.

21.         But beyond physical facilities, going beyond Hospital to Community also requires the development and implementation of new and innovative care models, which reach out into the community, to support patients as they continue their path to recovery in their own homes.

22.         I understand that NHG and TTSH have worked with the public hospitals across the other clusters to develop a national “Hospital to Home” programme that will help patients transit safely from hospital to their homes. Under the programme, patients will receive customised services comprising a mix of medical, nursing, rehabilitative, and psycho-social care from the comfort of the patient’s home. This will give patients the support they need to remain well in the community.

Supporting Learning and Innovation - Centre for Healthcare Innovation

23.         Going forward, our integrated healthcare clusters will need more such innovations, to meet the needs of patients for community-based care services.  We need also healthcare professionals who have the skills and the competencies to work effectively not just in the hospital setting but also in the community setting.   

24.         Hence, I am glad to note that TTSH has set up the Centre for Healthcare Innovation (or CHI), to spearhead learning and innovation.

25.         In this regard, I would also like to thank the family of the late Mr Ng Teng Fong for their generous donation of $52 million to the development of CHI. 

26.         This contribution will help finance the enhancement of skills and capabilities of the next generation of healthcare workers and support new ideas and innovations in healthcare delivery, for the benefit of patients.

27.         In recognition of this donation, the CHI Building will be named the “Ng Teng Fong Centre for Healthcare Innovation”. I look forward to it being a test bed for the development of new healthcare ideas and multi-disciplinary care approaches that will benefit our patients.

Conclusion

28.         In closing, I would like to congratulate NHG, TTSH, DPH and all their healthcare partners here on achieving these important milestones today, which take us one step closer to the realisation of the HealthCity Novena Masterplan. 

29.         More fundamentally, I look forward to fruitful partnerships, exciting innovations, and excellence in professional education and research, which can help us towards our goal of achieving Better Health, Better Care, and Better Life for all Singaporeans.

30.         Thank you.

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