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Two new medical centres to open next year

NUH facility, expanded heart centre to focus on chronic diseases of the elderly
The Straits Times - September 13, 2012
By: Poon Chian Hui
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Two new medical centres to open next year PHOTO: SPH

HEALTH-CARE facilities in the pipeline are progressing on schedule, with two new buildings to open as early as next year.

The National University Hospital (NUH) Medical Centre and an expanded National Heart Centre will start operations in the second half of next year, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong yesterday.

Also, Yishun Polyclinic will move to a temporary building - now being constructed - behind Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in Yishun Central 1 by the year end.

The polyclinic, now at the junction of Yishun Central and Yishun Street 61, will make way for theYishun Community Hospital, which will be completed by 2015.

Talks are ongoing to fix a permanent site for the polyclinic, Mr Gan told reporters on the sidelines of a health conference at Resorts World Sentosa yesterday. "We want to be careful in selecting the location, to make sure that it serves the residents well."

The two-day Healthcare Infrastructure Technology and Engineering Conference, which ends today, has gathered about 300 experts from 10 countries.

Mr Gan said the Health Ministry is exploring a new model of care for Yishun Polyclinic - one that would allow for more collaboration with community partners, including those in private practice.

He said the new generation of medical facilities will focus on providing care to patients with long-term illnesses. The 20-storey NUH Medical Centre, for example, will house specialist outpatient clinics.

And the new 12-storey, $165 million National Heart Centre building, to be built at Singapore General Hospital (SGH), will be triple the size of the existing centre, currently also located at SGH.

"One key focus of these facilities is to address the emerging chronic diseases that are part and parcel of our ageing population," Mr Gan said. These include diabetes, hypertension and heart problems.

He said the new facilities will be more elderly-friendly. For example, services will be located in the hospital compound, so patients need not walk too far for tests and consultations and to collect medicine.

He added: "We need to increasingly alter our focus from once-off, episodic treatment in hospitals to the continuous management of chronic conditions in the community."But he also warned against "overbuilding", which he said can be wasteful and jack up health-care costs.

By 2020, the Government plans to increase the number of acute hospital beds by more than 30 per cent, or 1,900 beds. About 1,800 community hospital beds will also be added, more than double the 800 beds today. For nursing homes, more than 9,000 beds will be added by the same year.

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