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Speech by Minister Gan Kim Yong at Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital's 111th Anniversary Celebration

Speech by Minister Gan Kim Yong at Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital's 111th Anniversary Celebration

Mr. Patrick Lee, Chairman of Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital,

 

Board members of Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital,

 

Distinguished guests,

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

1. Good afternoon. I am very pleased to join you today to celebrate Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital’s 111th Anniversary.

 

2. Let me first begin by thanking Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital for its service to the community and its contributions to the healthcare sector in Singapore over the past 111 years. When the hospital first opened its doors in 1910, its founders intended for it to provide the poor with access to free healthcare. While the institution may have grown in scale and scope, the ethos to help society remains unchanged.

 

CHANGING CONTEXTS, CONSTANT MISSION

 

3. Indeed, the hospital’s mission to 时刻关怀 (“always care”) was always placed front and centre of its transformation over the decades. I fondly recall the visits to this hospital during my previous stint at the Ministry of Health (MOH). During that period, Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital embarked on a series of innovations and rolled out new initiatives to meet the healthcare needs of our population. This included an integrated hub concept at its Active Ageing Hubs that combined different services such as Traditional Chinese Medicine workshops, day and home care services, to support the varying needs of seniors within the community.  This commitment to better serve the needs of the public also culminated in the Kwong Wai Shiu Free Hospital (Transfer of Undertaking and Dissolution) Bill back in 2017, allowing the hospital to expand its suite of healthcare services and the number of patients it can serve.

 

4. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital on the opening of additional nursing home wards. This will add another 128 beds, bringing the total to 750. These new wards, designed with enhanced capabilities to cater to residents who have long-term complications and greater chronic care needs, will enable the hospital to elevate the level of care for its patients and residents.

 

A VALUED PARTNER IN OUR EFFORTS TO MEET SINGAPORE’S FUTURE HEALTHCARE NEEDS

 

5. Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital has been an important partner in the Government’s efforts to address Singapore’s evolving healthcare needs. I am confident that this fruitful partnership will continue for many years to come.

 

6. First, Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital has and will continue to contribute to our plans to enable Singaporeans to age more confidently and gracefully. We face a significant demographic shift over the next decade, with about 1 in 4 Singaporeans expected to be aged 65 and above in 2030 from about 1 in 6 in 2020.  To better meet the needs of an ageing population, the Government launched CareShield Life to provide basic financial support should one become severely disabled, especially during old age. CareShield Life has been available since October last year, for Singaporeans born in 1980 or later. The scheme was recently expanded for eligible Singaporeans born in 1979 or earlier to join. MOH has also rolled out a new Eldercare Centre service model earlier this year. These centres provide active ageing programmes, befriending or buddying services for lonely and vulnerable seniors and referral assistance for care services, as needed. The Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital has been and will continue to be a key partner in supporting such efforts to provide quality care to our seniors. By 2022, the Hospital will extend its services to a network of six different locations in the Central Singapore region in support of the Regional Community Healthcare System.

 

7. An ageing population also means a shrinking workforce, and the need to increase our productivity. This is something that affects all sectors. I am heartened to learn that the Hospital inked an agreement with ST Engineering last year to fully automate its food delivery system using autonomous robots. These robotic “colleagues” will help save 16-man hours per meal, hours which can be dedicated to other services such as patient rehabilitation, treatment, and support. Initiatives like these leverage technologies to free up our healthcare professionals’ bandwidth and will help us better optimise our resources.

 

TRAINING THE NEXT GENERATION OF HEALTHCARE WORKERS

 

8. At the heart of our healthcare system is its workforce. I would like to thank Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital for its invaluable contributions in upskilling the community care sector. The hospital first set up its dedicated training wing back in 2018 to drive the training of the sector as well as Kwong Wai Shiu staff. The Hospital was also appointed as the first SkillsFuture Queen Bee for the community care sector. This will help over 100 Community Care Organisations (CCO) to build up their capabilities and kickstart new initiatives that will support the expansion of job roles and the deepening of skills in the sector.

 

9. Despite the headwinds posed by Covid-19, the Hospital continued to contribute to moulding the next generation of healthcare staff through its participation as part of the SGUnited Traineeships Programme. The traineeships provided fresh graduates with valuable industry experience and an opportunity to develop their professional skills.

 

10. The Covid-19 pandemic has been a challenging time for all of us, particularly the healthcare workers. Over the past 18 months, staff, including those at Kwong Wai Shiu, have had to deliver quality healthcare while observing many safe management measures, such as split team arrangements. Despite this, healthcare institutions and workers have continued to go above and beyond the call of duty to tackle an unprecedented crisis. At the start of the pandemic last year, Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital deployed its staff to help at other nursing homes that were affected by the outbreak to ease their manpower crunch. This remarkable spirit of solidarity and collective responsibility has helped us through this crisis and it will continue to steel us against future crisis. I would like to once again extend my deepest gratitude to all healthcare workers for their tireless resolve and selfless efforts during this pandemic.

 

CONCLUSION

 

11. Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital can take great pride in its contributions to Singapore and Singaporeans over the past 111 years. I am confident that the Hospital will continue to play a pivotal role in providing quality care for our seniors for many more years to come.

 

12. Thank you.

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