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Woodlands hospital to showcase new ideas (The Straits Times, 17/02/2014)


By Amelia Tan

"Khaw wants integrated health-care complex to be connected with homes and nature"

 A new integrated health-care complex coming up in Woodlands promises to be like no hospitals seen so far in Singapore.

There are no architect's designs or artist's impressions, but National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan's brief for the planners is to break new groud, make it different and connected it with homes and nature.

Altogether, there will be up to 1,800 beds in a general hospital, community hospital and nursing home due to open in phases from 2022, he said at a community event yesterday at Woodlands Civic Centre.

The complex will be built on a 7.7ha site along Woodlands Avenue 12 and Woodlands Drive 17, opposite Christ Church Secondary School, and within walking distance from the future Woodlands South MRT station.

Proposed location

It will be the first of four new general hospitals to be built between 2020 and 2030. Coming up sooner are Ng Teng Fong General Hospital in Jurong, which will open by December, and one general hospital and one community hospital in Sengkang - due to be ready by 2018.

Mr Khaw has set broad targets for the Woodlands project, saying he wants it connected to nearby facilities such as parks and park connectors, and to be involved in community health programmes.

An idea he tossed up is for staff of the new hospital to work with residents to expand and improve community gardening projects popular in Woodlands. This will help to promote health and forge bonds within the community, said Mr Khaw, an MP for Sembawang GRC where the new complex will be built.

Alexandra Health System has the job of turning his suggestions into reality. The health-care group has already drawn kudos for a host of innovations at Yishun's Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, including a programme that sends nurses to patients' homes to keep them from checking into hospital too often, keep-clean and eat-healthy campaigns as well as landscaping that attracts numerous birds.

Mr Khaw wants the team to out-do itself in Woodlands. He suggested that they visit Japan and countries in Scandinavia to learn how they care for the elderly.

"I do not want this to be just more of the same. Another hospital, another community hospital or another nursing home. Think and plan long-term," he said.

He pledged to mobilise grass-roots leaders in Sembawang GRC and statutory boards under the Ministry of National Development to make the proejct a success.

Mr Liak Teng Lit, head of Alexandra Health, said his team will have more freedom in designing the new complex because it will be built from scratch on an empty plot with no adjacent buildings.

His team already knows it wants the complex to be accessible and green. Some ideas include connecting buildings within the complex to the  surrounding Housing Board estates as well as parks and the new MRT station so that residents can walk or cycle there.

Residents said the new hospital will make it more convenient for them to seek medical treatment.

Housewife Yow It Yang, 66, who visits a specialist in the city every four months for high blood pressure, said: "It takes an hour to travel to Gleneagles. But the new hospital will be about 15 minutes from my home. I can cut down on travelling time to see a doctor."

Yesterday's community event saw children doing sand artworks and being entertained by a pineapple mascot, a symbol for Sembawang GRC which used to have pineapple farms.

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.

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