Quiet first day at Ng Teng Fong hospital

The Ng Teng Fong General Hospital in Jurong East opened yesterday, with 365 beds available initially, slightly more than half its capacity. Photo: ST

It was a relatively quiet day at the Ng Teng Fong General Hospital (NTFGH) yesterday as the new public hospital opened its doors - and 365 beds, slightly more than half its capacity - to patients .

Mr Foo Hee Jug, who heads Jurong Health, which runs the hospital, said: "It is very important for a major project like Ng Teng Fong General Hospital to open in phases and safely."

Nevertheless, the first patient to enter its emergency department was a fairly serious case that required a head CT scan followed by high-dependency care.

Another patient, Madam Dang Li San, 32, who is pregnant with her first child, was warded after she was referred to the emergency department by her company doctor following severe chest pain.

Almost all the patients seeing specialists at Alexandra Hospital - 18,000 people or 95 per cent of them - have chosen to stay with the doctors treating them and have switched to NTFGH. So the 80 specialist outpatient clinics that started operating yesterday saw 150 patients with prior appointments.

But there were also new patients queueing for specialist care, such as Mr Zhiong Long Hui, who was told by his shipyard doctor to get the swelling near his left eye treated.

It had become worse over the past fortnight, in spite of antibiotics and cream.

Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob, who is an MP for Jurong GRC, said: "My residents are really very excited over the opening of the NTFGH, not just because of the proximity and convenience, but because of the better design and facilities of the hospital."

She said these include pharmacies on every floor so there won't be "bottlenecks during peak periods" and subsidised wards "with windows looking out into the garden".

She added: "The hospital is also very connected and therefore accessible from every point."

Mayor for the South West District Low Yen Ling thanked the hospital staff, who had worked hard to open the hospital, which "makes quality healthcare services more accessible to residents in the district".

She hopes it will lead to more community health programmes and the promotion of a healthy lifestyle.

But Ms Tin Pei Ling, a member of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Health, warned that with the closure of the 400 beds at Alexandra Hospital, there is no net gain in beds in the public sector, which is experiencing a severe bed crunch.

She urged the Health Ministry to "enhance the processes of care delivery to ensure more effective use of beds and facilities", such as having more day surgery procedures.

This article was first published on July 01, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.