Mr Hsieh Fu Hua, Chairman, NUHS Board
Prof Yeoh Khay Guan, Chief Executive, NUHS
Ladies and Gentlemen
I am pleased to be here this evening to recognize the outstanding healthcare professionals and administrators across the National University Health System (NUHS). They have made significant impact on the practice of medicine and touched the lives of many in the areas of patient care, research and education.
2. This is also the first awards ceremony of such a scale in over two years for NUHS and many organisations. I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to each and every one of you at NUHS.
3. The COVID-19 pandemic has placed unprecedented stress on healthcare systems and healthcare workers around the world and in Singapore. Nevertheless, you stood by one another and battled through the waves of infection. Today, we have regained our normal lives, and made great strides towards living endemically with COVID-19, to feel safe at home with our family and friends and on occasions like this. Thank you for all your hard work and sacrifices to help Singapore overcome the COVID-19 crisis!
Not Wasting a Crisis
4. As a crisis, COVID-19 pushed us to rethink old assumptions, and do things differently and better. Indeed, NUHS has turned challenges into opportunities by accelerating initiatives to counter the evolving needs
5. One breakthrough is how NUHS embraces digital healthcare. Teleconsultation, medicine home delivery, and contactless transactions have become part and parcel of the new normal at NUHS and throughout the healthcare system as patients adapted to receiving care and services outside of hospitals.
6. There are also innovative healthtech-enabled initiatives at NUHS such as the My Health Map, a preventive evidence-based health management plan; CHAMPS, an AI-guided population-based disease management programme; and the OneNUHS app which caters for patients’ needs all in one app and utilises a smart chatbot to answer the most commonly asked questions.
7. Another is how we think about preventive care. In combating COVID-19, we mandate mask wearing, encourage hand hygiene, and strongly promoted vaccinations – all of which are preventive care measures. Because by the time the person is infected and fall seriously ill, it is too late.
8. So, from the cauldron of the COVID-19 crisis, the Ministry of Health has embarked on Healthier SG – a nationwide shift from the traditional emphasis on illness-based hospital care towards a focus on preventive care. This will be a major reform of our healthcare system for at least the next ten years.
9. Another hallmark of resilience is not to let a crisis detract us from critical and strategic work. Throughout the pandemic, NUHS pushed on with its redevelopment efforts of its Kent Ridge and Alexandra campuses.
10. The new Kent Ridge Campus is an important part of our expansion of healthcare infrastructure to cater to the demands of an ageing population, and to augment our training capacity for healthcare practitioners.
11. The major redevelopment work at Alexandra campus will transform the hospital into an integrated general hospital with a full suite of services in integrated care, geriatric medicine, supportive and palliative care medicine, rehabilitative medicine, psychological medicine, and ambulatory surgery. It will provide high quality medical care for the Queenstown community and beyond.
12. What made me take my hat off to NUHS was for the recent successful implementation of Next Generation Electronic Medical Records across the whole cluster, at the height of the Omicron wave earlier this year. I know it was not easy, it added even more pressure to the staff and healthcare workers, but today you have achieved an integrated system – one single patient record for all NUHS patients whether they visit a hospital, a polyclinic, specialist clinic or health post under the NUHS cluster. Medical personnel in NUHS now have one true view of the residents’ health needs. It will enable more personalised, consistent, and seamless care. It is a very important effort with very long-term implications. Congratulations.
13. The display of resilience, courage and public-spiritedness of the healthcare sector has brought about moments of indescribable hope to the rest of Singapore. Tonight, I wish to honour 80 NUHS healthcare professionals for your remarkable contributions towards Singapore’s healthcare system. Their accomplishments are aplenty, but tonight I will tell the stories of three award recipients.
A Tribute to Healthcare Workers
14. First, the Neonatal Team consisting of A/Professor Zubair Amin, Dr Yvonne Ng, Dr Krishnamoorthy Niduvaje, and Senior Nurse Clinician Ms Lee Soke Yee.
15. The team was exemplary in providing appropriate, consistent, and comprehensive care for premature babies. One of their patients is baby Kwek Yu Xuan, the world’s tiniest premature baby who weighed a mere 212g at birth – about the weight of an apple. She was so tiny that her thigh was only the size of a finger.
16. While Yu Xuan’s chances of survival were low, the neonatal team cared for her around the clock, including with new innovative ways. They improvised feeding tubes, re-fashioned diapers for her small frame and took special care of her fragile skin to minimize infections.
17. Her 13-month stay was fraught with challenges, but the team never gave up. Two years on, Yu Xuan is out of the confines of the hospital walls. She is now a healthy, cheerful toddler who regularly video-calls her care team, or should we say, care family of nurses and doctors at NUH.
18. Next, we have Ms Clara Sin, Chief Operating Officer, NUH, a recipient of the Excellence Award today for her tireless pursuit of healthcare transformation and excellence. Among her many contributions over two decades in NUHS, she spearheaded the Service Transformation Department and rolled out NUHS’ digital gateway to unlimited possibilities – the OneNUHS App – across all NUHS institutions.
19. Finally, we are also honouring Professor Lim Pin – someone I have known for many years, mostly because we were working together on manpower challenges in the National Wages Council.
20. Within the healthcare sector, Professor Lim Pin is a giant – a highly regarded University Professor and Emeritus Consultant at Division of Endocrinology, and Department of Medicine, NUH.
21. Back in 1981, Professor Lim took on the role of Vice Chancellor of NUS and made significant contributions to the scientific and engineering expertise of the country by working with various companies in the industry to fund and establish key research institutions.
22. He is also a visionary and fervent advocate of life-long learning. As the Vice Chancellor of NUS, he decided to develop NUH, then supposed to be named the Kent Ridge Hospital, as an Academic Medical Centre. It is a powerful idea because by co-locating the hospital close to the university, it has access to all research facilities and academic resources. Such an approach was very much ahead of its time.
23. Decades of contributions by leaders like Professor Lim Pin has certainly moved the needle for Singapore as a powerhouse for biomedical research and industry. Up till today, Professor Lim Pin still teaches regularly, it has been a delight and honour for our medical students and clinicians, and I hope he can continue to do so for many more years.
24. Together, you have set an inspiring example of professionalism, courage, grit and solidarity, and have continued to challenge the boundaries to ensure better and more accessible care for our population as healthcare professionals, educators, researchers and administrators.
25. The tough times we have gone through together have demonstrated our perseverance; perseverance brings about proven character; and character encompasses courage and strength to fight for a better future, and deliver hope.
26. Together with my colleagues at the Ministry, we will continue to work alongside with you to battle COVID-19 and to fulfil our vision of a healthier nation. To all the recipients tonight, my heartiest congratulations and my sincere thanks for all the impactful work that you have done.