"Functional elegance" comes to mind when we think of our upcoming Sengkang General and Community Hospitals. While we are right in the heart of a dense, built-up environment – just next door to HDB dwellings, in fact – we are happy to blend in on the outside, staying close to the communities that we serve. The details that will make all the difference are woven within the hospitals' environments, which will surprise and hopefully delight visitors after they step in from a conservative façade.
We have worked hard and creatively within the constraints of time, resources and requirements to build a hospital that will inspire wellness in visitors, patients and staff alike. My favourite design point is how we have plotted in pockets of airy, green spaces throughout the hospitals. Such spaces breathe life into the urban environment and offer a brief respite for people to pause while going about a busy day of healing or caregiving. These pockets of greenery, along with our rooftop garden, are gems of connection to nature and sunshine. They serve as "chargers" to kick-start ourselves, reminding us of our humanness and allowing moments of restorative reflection.
The hospitals have a first level that is raised, with a 'kelong' effect. Several entrances will lead visitors into a wide, common space that we call the "Community Heart". This bright and spacious space will have an open skylight welcoming visitors and it is also where cafes, retail outlets and event spaces will be. In keeping with the open concept, we like to begin a culture that encourages patients to open their hearts and minds to active participation in their own care and treatment. Leading upwards, we have our clinics and wards. The wards start from the fourth storey, as we wanted to elevate restful places for better ventilation. Our floor vinyls, curtains and built up materials are noise-absorbent to support the calmness that helps patients recover. With the General Hospital's connectivity to the Community Hospital, patients can sense their recovery progress as they move from high acuity places – like Intensive Care or Accident & Emergency – to a stable and recuperative space at the Community Hospital.
We also add a dash of liveliness to the environment with what we call a "West End" at the Community Hospital, which also houses our auditoriums, theatres and a childcare centre. This area will have a higher concentration of activities, where residents and children can come for engagement workshops, health fairs, play music and enjoy the open space which we lack so dearly in our urbanised lives. Hearing noise of the right kind, like the laughter of children, can be a plus to convalescing patients. It is at the Community Hospital that we are linked directly to the surrounding BTO blocks too.
We are using technology to help us in our work so that we continue to deliver quality care to patients. For better usage of manpower resources and improved efficiency, we are tracking equipment, health outcomes and patients using technology. We are exploring new ways to deliver healthcare such as through telehealth where we give consultations over video. Even so, we are mindful of the human side of healthcare. Our culture of mindfulness reminds us that people are important in the equation, be it patients, visitors, or staff. Whether it is attending to patients or discussing work among colleagues, focusing on being 'in the moment' helps us deliver care more thoughtfully instead of looking at it as just a routine. Come the second half of 2018, residents, patients and caregivers can look forward to a hospital that is built around their needs and with them in mind. We look forward to serving the community soon.
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