After two years in operation - during which it helped to bolster Singapore's hospital bed capacity when Covid-19 cases surged - the Outram Community Hospital (OCH) was officially opened on Monday (Jan 24).
It is part of a $4 billion, 20-year revamp of buildings on the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) campus, and occupies six floors in the new SingHealth Tower, also officially opened on Monday.
"Every building that comes online brings with it new infrastructure... and more importantly, our opportunity to transform care," said SingHealth chief executive Ivy Ng at the opening ceremony.
"The more complex care becomes, the more simple it has to be for patients to navigate through our system."
The new National Cancer Centre Singapore is slated to open later this year as part of the revamp, with SGH's Emergency Medicine Building to start operations from 2024.
This will be followed by the SGH Elective Care Centre and National Dental Centre Singapore in 2027, with a second phase involving the addition of a new SGH Complex and improved road network.
These developments are part of the Government's continuous investment in public infrastructure, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, who attended the event in person.
"Beyond the investment of resources, the entire project requires very meticulous planning and execution. For example, services and roads need to be carefully shifted so as not to disrupt operations in one of the busiest and oldest hospitals in Singapore," he said.
The new 545-bed community hospital will look after patients who no longer need the acute care provided by a general hospital, but are not well enough to return home.
These include those who have undergone knee replacements, or had hip fractures or strokes. They can also include Covid-19 patients who have recovered from the virus but are elderly and frail, with existing medical conditions that require rehabilitation.
To help in their recovery, OCH has a special facility set up to mimic a two-room flat, allowing patients to practise performing daily activities.
The community hospital also takes in patients who require palliative care and those with dementia.
Also housed in the 19-storey SingHealth Tower are SGH's administrative and logistics staff, as well as the hospital's central kitchen and sterile supplies unit - from which food and medical supplies are delivered to the rest of the complex via a network of underground tunnels.
These are the "silent workers in the background", Mr Ong said, adding: "They are essential to any organisation... However, in this age of social media and round-the-clock running of the publicity machinery, we can easily forget their vital contribution, until something goes wrong."
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