Getting around new polyclinic as easy as ABC

Photo above: An artist’s impression of the relocated polyclinic, where all services will be located on one floor and different services will be grouped together so that patients can save time.

SINGAPORE - Sliding doors, colour-coded areas, handrails along walkways, and ramps replacing steps and stairs. These are some elderly-friendly features of the $10 million relocated Yishun Polyclinic, designed with the ageing population in mind.

Set to open on Nov 26, the polyclinic at 30A Yishun Central 1 is only one street away from the current location at 100 Yishun Central. The old building will be demolished and rebuilt as a community hospital.

Work is expected to start early next year.

The relocation site, however, is a temporary one. The 4,440 sq m plot is earmarked for other uses. Talks are ongoing with grassroots leaders, the Ministry of Health and the Urban Redevelopment Authority to identify a permanent place.

Last month, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said the relocated polyclinic will be "more effective in serving patients" after remodelling the concept of care.

All services are arranged on one floor, unlike most other polyclinics. Older people and wheelchair users can therefore get around more easily, said Ms Grace

Chiang, chief operating officer of National Healthcare Group Polyclinics.

"In the existing polyclinic, patients have to move between floors for services, and that is not very elderly-friendly."

Several other features are also new and do not exist in the group's eight other polyclinics.

These include the use of colours and letters of the alphabet to classify areas within the facility.

For example, the chronic care clinic will be painted blue and called Clinic A.

Said Ms Chiang: "It makes navigation easier. The elderly know where to go, given that they would recognise numbers and colours."

More rooms for consultation and treatment will also be set up.

The polyclinic saw a 19.4 per cent rise in the number of patients between 2007 and last year. About half are being treated for chronic ailments such as diabetes, said Dr Simon Lee, who heads Yishun Polyclinic.

Different services will also be grouped in one area so patients save time, for example, from having to walk to collect their medicine after seeing the doctor.

The clinic for acute ailments, such as coughs and colds, will have its own pharmacy and payment area.

Said Dr Lee: "Traditionally, services are organised around doctors, nurses, X-rays, laboratory tests... But the patient just wants to get the care he needs without hassle, then go home."

Long-time diabetes patient Heng Guek Liang, 82, said this also means less jostling with the crowd at shared areas.

"It's very crowded here when I go for my blood test," said the retiree. "This is something I'm not very happy about."

Despite the temporary arrangement, it is a chance to test new ideas, said Ms Chiang, adding that successful measures will be rolled out at the older polyclinics.

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