KOK XING HUI
SINGAPORE — Officially opened yesterday, the new National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS) — 12 storeys high and four times larger than its previous size — is expected to help the Republic cope with a projected rise in heart diseases.
Officially opened yesterday, the new National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS) — 12 storeys high and four times larger than its previous size — is expected to help the Republic cope with a projected rise in heart diseases.
And such upgrades to Singapore’s specialist centres, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, are an important part of making sure the Republic’s healthcare system — which is already of high quality — is able to keep serving people’s changing needs.
Located at Outram in a cluster of healthcare institutions that includes the Singapore General Hospital, the NHCS is aimed at treating those with complex heart conditions and also serves as a training ground and facility for research.
Mr Lee, who was guest-of-honour at the official opening, said specialist centres deliver high-quality care to patients. In the case of the NHCS, it can perform primary angioplasty procedures for emergency cases — in which a balloon is used to widen a constricted artery — in a median time span of 65 minutes — well below the international standard of 90 minutes.
These specialist centres, he added, are “peaks of excellence” in Singapore’s healthcare system.
The new NHCS building has three operating theatres, with the capacity to expand that number to six. A new short-stay unit for patients undergoing elective procedures will help the centre free up inpatient beds and reduce the size of bills that patients face when they leave, said Adjunct Professor Terrance Chua, its medical director.
Fully-equipped training facilities also mean medical staff and allied healthcare workers would be able to attend training sessions right where they work. Professor Chua said one-and-a-half floors of the centre would be devoted to research with the National Heart Research Institute Singapore.
“Embedding our clinicians, researchers and educators together in a single building will increase opportunities for the exchange of ideas between clinicians and researchers, inspire our students and trainees to learn more about the entire spectrum of cardiac care, and make it easier for us to engage our patients in research,” he said.
But while the centre focuses on heart diseases, Prof Chua said its services are not meant for every heart patient. “Many patients can be evaluated by their primary care physician and those who have signs of more complex disease, who have evidence of coronary disease, (those) will be referred to us,” he said.
Yesterday, Mr Lee also outlined other measures the Government has put in place to prepare for an ageing population and improve access to primary care. He reiterated how new polyclinics, hospitals and nursing homes are being built, while existing ones are being upgraded.
The Government hopes to add another 4,000 hospital beds over the next few years. It also plans to increase the number of nursing home beds to 17,000 by 2020.
The Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS), which subsidises the low-income and visits by the pioneer generation to their general practitioners and dentists, now covers more people as well, said Mr Lee.
The qualifying age of 40 years old for CHAS was removed this year to allow young, low-income Singaporeans qualify for the scheme.
About 313,000 Singaporeans were covered under CHAS as of September last year. That figure has shot up to about 850,000 as of last month.
The number of private general practitioners and dental clinics participating in CHAS has also increased by 24 per cent.
Article from http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/revamped-centre-help-spore-cope-heart-disease