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09 Dec 2019

7th Dec 2019

SPEECH BY MR EDWIN TONG, SENIOR MINISTER OF STATE, MINISTRY OF LAW AND MINISTRY OF HEALTH, AT THE OUTRAM COMMUNITY HOSPITAL COMMUNITY HEALTH DAY, 7 DECEMBER 2019, 10:45AM AT OUTRAM COMMUNITY HOSPITAL

Professor Kenneth Kwek, Deputy Group CEO, SingHealth and CEO, SGH

Ms Margaret Lee, CEO, SingHealth Community Hospitals

Dr Chia Shi-Lu, Member of Parliament for Tanjong Pagar GRC

Distinguished guests and residents

Ladies and gentlemen

 

  1. It gives me great pleasure to take part in this opening, and to be given a tour of the hospital. Outram Community Hospital (OCH) is the newest addition to the SGH Campus and Singapore’s ninth Community Hospital. OCH opened its doors on 18 November 2019 to receive its first batch of patients. When fully ramped up over the next couple of years, OCH will be operating more than 540 beds, focusing on supporting patients who require an extended period of inpatient care, such as rehabilitation, typically after treatment at an acute hospital.

     

    Increasing role of Community Hospitals

     

  2. The development of community hospitals is one of the government’s response to our changing demographics, and rapidly ageing population. We have concentrated our efforts previously on acute hospitals, because patients’ needs are often episodic, very acute but short, so we need acute hospitals to play that role.

     

  3. By 2030, however, one in four Singaporeans will be over 65 years old. Today we have about 420,000 aged 65 and above. By 2030, we have about 900,000, so it is more than double that number. As our society matures and our population ages, the care needs of our patients will change. Our hospitals are already seeing more frail patients who require a longer period of care, and so therefore, rehabilitation, particularly rehabilitation services, and other supportive services at our community hospitals, play a very important role to help patients to recover, rest, rehabilitate and I think also very importantly, reintegrate back into society and the design of this Hospital and the focus on rehab have been precisely to drive that, to allow patients to better go back into society.

     

  4. We now have a total of nine community hospitals island-wide. Since 2015, MOH has developed four new ones in Jurong, Yishun, Sengkang and of course, today Outram. And importantly these are also co-located with the acute hospitals to have seamless care and transfers, to allow two hospitals to work together upstream and downstream.


    Connecting Care from SGH Campus

     

  5. Located on the SGH Campus, OCH of course will work with SGH and the National Specialty Centers, to care for patients who don’t often need to stay in the acute hospitals. This not only helps with rehabilitation care integration, but also frees up critical space in our acute hospitals settings. And I think that is very important moving forward as our demand will rise.

     

  6. So when you go around, you see that the Activities of Daily Living rooms are furnished exactly like a HDB flat. There is also a rooftop garden at the 12th floor, which allows for outdoor rehabilitation, simulating roads and conditions in real life, allowing seniors, especially those who are frail, to get used to the environment, before going back to the community. There are stairs, slopes, sand and gravel, and even Hospital-Grade soil. So you can see that they have thought of everything.


    Bridging Care. Building Communities.

  7. As part of the SingHealth Community Hospitals (SCH), OCH shares the same care philosophy, and I think that is very important, because the same mindset, same philosophy and the same way you handle patients from acute into community; along with its two sister community hospitals – Sengkang Community Hospital and Bright Vision Hospital – to deliver a very patient-oriented, patient-centered care and facilitate return to the community.

     

  8. So it is no surprise that SCH on these premises, has built up good partnerships with many of our community partners, and you see them today here as well, like the Hospice Care Association, Agency for Integrated Care, Singapore University of Social Sciences, Sports Singapore even and the National Heritage Board (NHB). I think all of these actually plays into the overall setting, for patients to reintegrate and rehabilitate.

     

  9. One result of this partnership is the co-development of a 16-week reminiscence therapy programme between SCH and NHB. Reminiscence is when you think back the past, what used to excite you, what used to bring you back good memories, and we now bring them into the programme for rehab as well, so we keep patients socially engaged with memories, with little tickets, photos and so on, of things that they used to know, they used to associate with in happy days, when they were growing up, when they were younger, things including popular TV shows and so on. I thank NHB for this initiative, which I think is a very good one, because as we all know, having good memories, good recollections and good thoughts is very much crucial to rehabilitation.

     

    Closing

     

  10. Finally, in closing, I believe this Carnival is a very good opportunity for OCH, the people around OCH, and its partners to come together to bond and know each other. Because ultimately, I believe that medical care, especially care at community hospitals, is as much a social care as it is a medical one. The integration of the medical and the social aspects of this care is vital. Working with so many partners and stakeholders helps to enhance patient care. Building lasting relationships between stakeholders will help the patients to get better, faster and reintegrate into the society better.

     

  11. So let me congratulate SCH for the opening and operations of OCH. To all the staff, today has been a milestone, long time in the making, and I congratulate all of you for this achievement, but as Margaret says, today is only the start of the journey. I think that is the right attitude and right approach because we now have the physical infrastructure, but we must make the software work, and that’s why working with the patients and reintegrating them is so important.

     

  12. Thank you.

 




Category: Speeches