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Hospitals Increasing Capacity to Ensure No Disruption to Patient Care

With the increased number of COVID-19 cases in the community and at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), the Ministry of Health (MOH) has worked with the public and private hospitals to activate various capacity management and load balancing measures.

2. TTSH has implemented further steps to reduce the risk of transmission as well as free up more manpower to take care of existing patients. From 2 May 2021, TTSH has progressively ceased admissions of new inpatient cases until further notice. All Singapore Civil Defence Force ambulance cases will also be diverted to other public and private hospitals for the purpose of load-balancing.

3. For patients requiring Specialist Outpatient Clinic (SOC) services, TTSH will defer the appointments of stable cases and initiate teleconsultation and medication delivery where appropriate. For SOC patients requiring in-person care, TTSH will arrange for them to be seen by staff who are not linked to the Case 62541 cluster. From 3 May 2021, some hospitals have also started deploying doctors, nurses and allied health professionals to assist TTSH teams in caring for their existing patients.

4. These measures allow TTSH and the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) to focus its attention on providing appropriate care for patients who are presently admitted, and to deal with the cluster of COVID-19 cases in the hospital.

No interruption to urgent care

5. MOH is working closely with all public and private hospitals to ensure that patients requiring care will continue to be attended to. The healthcare community has also worked together to reserve more beds to manage any potential increase in COVID-19 cases. To conserve resources across the healthcare sector, MOH has asked all hospitals to defer non-urgent surgeries and admissions as well as non-urgent SOC appointments until further notice. The hospitals will contact the affected patients about these deferments. Where appropriate, MOH encourages hospitals’ healthcare teams to work closely with patients in arranging teleconsultations and alternative care arrangements until the current situation stabilises.

6. MOH urges members of the public to visit the emergency department only for emergency and life-threatening conditions. These include persistent chest pain, breathlessness, sudden weakness and numbness, serious injuries and multiple trauma. Longer wait times are expected, as other hospitals step up to support TTSH, and we seek the understanding and patience of Singaporeans.

7. Members of the public with non-emergency conditions should first seek consultation with their general practitioners or doctors at the polyclinics. Those with respiratory symptoms should visit Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs) as far as possible. At PHPCs, Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents diagnosed with respiratory infections (e.g. common cold) will pay a flat subsidised rate of $10 for consultation and treatment of the condition. Pioneer Generation and Merdeka Generation seniors will pay $5 at PHPCs.

8. MOH reiterates that no hospital is denying medical care to patients who need it. However, as a precautionary measure, hospitals may impose stricter triaging criteria for visitors, including asking visitors or accompanying persons who had been to TTSH inpatient wards from 18 April 2021 to defer their visits. This is in the best interest and safety of patients and staff in the other hospitals, as the investigation of the TTSH outbreak is ongoing.

9. MOH thanks all public and private healthcare institutions for their contribution to contain the outbreak and seek the understanding and cooperation of all Singaporeans to support these measures and comply with safe distancing measures, while the healthcare system makes adjustments to cope with the ongoing situation.

3 MAY 2021

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