The $320 million Yishun Community Hospital opened its doors to patients on Monday (Dec 28).
The 428-bedded hospital, which offers rehabilitative, sub-acute, dementia and palliative care, is opening in phases and will start with five subsidised wards, or 170 beds.
Outpatient facilities such as the Day Rehabilitation Centre will open in the third quarter of next year. The national Geriatric Education & Research Institute, which will be housed in the hospital, will open in the second half of next year.
Yishun Community Hospital is linked directly to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) at Yishun Central and patients can be transferred easily from there for the next stage of care in their recovery. Patients will also be admitted from other acute care hospitals and nursing homes.
"This is a 'wel-going' hospital - we help patients get well and go home as soon as possible," said Mr Liak Teng Lit, group chief executive officer of the Alexandra Health System.
"That's why rehab is not confined to the gym. We want our patients to spend their waking hours out of bed and doing things for themselves as they will when they go home. This hospital was built with that end in mind."
The two hospitals' clinical teams will work closely together to coordinate care so patients can be transferred from KTPH to Yishun Community Hospital earlier, thereby freeing up more beds for acute patients.
In a statement on Monday, Yishun Community Hospital said that the wards have a number of features to encourage patients to become more independent.
For example, wards have balconies with views to draw patients out of bed to walk around. This is designed to help them regain strength and movement.
Rehab gyms are also spread across four floors so that each gym can target different patients' needs.
Patients will also have their own lockable bedside drawer where they can store and manage their own medication under the supervision of a nurse. This is to ensure that patients and their caregivers know how to take their medication correctly when they go home. Patients will also be encouraged to do other simple things for themselves like switching the ceiling fans on and off through a control next to their call bell.
To test out the facilities, more than 100 staff and volunteers slept over at the hospital a week before it opened. Some of the feedback from this session is being considered and staff are now making adjustments to further improve the facilities.
"Our care does not end when our patients leave. We want to ensure they cope well and stay healthy once they are home to prevent complications and readmission. So patients who need additional medical help and support are referred to the Ageing-In-Place Programme before they are discharged," said Dr Pauline Tan, chief executive of Yishun Community Hospital.
The Ageing-In-Place Programme is a community care team with doctors, nurses and therapists working closely with patients and hospital staff to ensure a smooth transition home and follow up to ensure they are coping well once they have been discharged.