With the increase in COVID-19 cases, the Ministry of Health (MOH) is setting up new community care facilities that provide clinical care to COVID-19 patients who are stable, have mild symptoms and/or are generally clinically-well but have underlying conditions that require a closer monitoring of their disease course. This will augment our hospital capacity, so that only those who actually need close and specialised medical attention, such as oxygen supplementation and intensive care, receive their medical care in our hospitals.
2. MOH will set up a new category of Community Care Facility (CCF), namely the Stepped-Up Community Care Facility with more comprehensive medical coverage, to care and manage elderly patients who are stable, mildly symptomatic, clinically-well but with some underlying chronic illnesses or comorbidities (e.g. cardiac, neurological or respiratory diseases, or weakened immune response) that could make them more susceptible to a potential worsening of illness. While this specific group of elderly patients are not at a high risk of deterioration to the extent of requiring oxygen supplementation or care in the intensive care unit (ICU), they will require closer monitoring of their pre-existing medical conditions as well as for any early signs of clinical deterioration. For the low percentage of those who do see a deterioration, they will immediately be sent back to our hospitals for further management.
3. In addition to the care provided at CCFs today, the Stepped-Up Community Care Facility will be adequately resourced with more medical and nursing manpower, as well as medical monitoring devices to ensure the optimal level of care for these patients. Suitable COVID-19 patients from nursing homes will also be prioritised for admission, to mitigate potential further spread within residential long-term care facilities should cases be detected among their residents.
4. We are working with Woodlands Health on standing up the first Stepped-Up Community Care Facility by repurposing the NTUC Health Nursing Home (Tampines) at 1 Tampines Ave Street 22. The Stepped-Up CCF, which will have 250 beds, will be operational on 23 September 2021. MOH has worked closely with NTUC Health and Agency for Integrated Care to transfer existing nursing home residents into other NTUC Health Nursing Home branches. Alternative care arrangements has also been secured for those awaiting admission to this nursing home. We thank the families and next-of-kin of the nursing home residents and NTUC Health for their understanding and cooperation in facilitating this shift to meet a national need.
5. In addition, MOH is working with our existing service providers to enhance some existing CCFs to operate part of their capacity as Stepped-Up Community Care Facilities, so that they can also manage and closely monitor the same profile of elderly patients who are stable, mildly symptomatic and/or generally clinical-well, but with chronic illnesses or comorbidities. This includes Raffles Medical Group augmenting its CCF at Connect@Changi, starting from 20 September 2021, to provide a total of 50 such beds when fully operational on 24 September 2021.
6. To expedite care for the increasing number of COVID-19 patients requiring conveyance to CCFs, we have also extended the timing of the conveyances and admissions to CCFs to be around-the-clock. We request for the understanding and cooperation of COVID-19 patients to adhere to their allocated conveyancing timing even if these are later in the night, to ensure their speedy conveyance to the CCFs.
7. We are continuously monitoring our hospital capacity and urge those with mild symptoms not to go to the hospital Accident & Emergency (A&E) departments. Such individuals should instead consult a General Practitioner (GP) at a Swab and Send Home (SASH) clinic. The SASH GPs are capable of more responsively assessing the severity of their symptoms, performing the necessary COVID-19 diagnostic tests and providing adequate medical care to manage mild symptoms.
8. Similarly, individuals confirmed with COVID-19 but who are asymptomatic should continue to stay home and seek telemedicine consultation first if they start to feel unwell. They should avoid going to the A&E departments of hospitals unless they have severe symptoms (such as chest pain or shortness of breath) that the telemedicine doctor assesses to necessitate conveying them to hospital for treatment. This is to prevent fruitless trips to the A&E departments which may inadvertently increase the risk of them transmitting COVID-19 to the others in the community.
MINISTRY OF HEALTH
19 SEPTEMBER 2021