KWSH featured in “50 Cultural Landscapes of Singapore"
Over half a century, Singapore has gone through many transformations, including its many landscapes and architectures, which have become lasting impressions deeply etched in the minds of Singaporeans. These collections signify the growth of our nation and they form part of our lives as we progress with the country.
In commemoration of Singapore’s 50th year of independence, Lianhe Zaobao has produced a special column “50 Cultural Landscapes of Singapore” – featuring captivating stories, accompanied by paintings and photographs on some of Singapore’s old and new heritage sites.
KWSH is privileged to be featured as one of these heritage sites. Please read the English translated copy of the article below or the original Chinese version (published in February 2015) at the following link: http://www.heritage50.sg/historical-hospitals.html.
Founded in 1910 by a group of Cantonese merchants, Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital (KWSH) is one of the oldest charity hospitals with a long history. KWSH’s services have evolved with the changing healthcare landscape across generations, and it has effectively aided the government in managing the healthcare needs of Singaporeans.
More than a hundred years ago, Singapore experienced a severe malaria outbreak. Fearing that the widespread malaria would spiral out of control, the Colonial Government approached the Chinese community to set up a charity hospital to help combat the disease.
To heed to the Colonial Government’s request, Wong Ah Fook, a Cantonese leader from Johor Bahru, and Leong Man Sau sought merchants from Guangzhou, Huizhou and Zhaoqing to discuss the development of a new hospital. They received strong support, and were able to fund-raise a total of more than one hundred thousand dollars.
With their plan in place, the two leaders took reference from the free hospitals in Guangzhou, China, and named their new hospital Kwong Wai Shiu Free Hospital.
The hospital was built on 705 Serangoon Road, taking over the old premises of Tan Tock Seng Hospital. Governor Sir John Anderson offered the six acres of land, along with the old Tan Tock Seng hospital wards, to KWSH for a period of 99 years and at a nominal annual rental of $1.
KWSH officially started its operations in 1911. The Board of Directors decided to set up a maternity ward to help relieve the overwhelming patient load from KK Hospital, which was then Singapore’s only hospital with a department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology. Before this, many pregnant women had to hire midwives to aid in their delivery at home, in which safety and hygiene were compromised.
The hospital also provided both Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Western Medicine to patients of all races but inpatient facilities were restricted to people of Cantonese origin. On 15 June 1974, the hospital amended its constitution and extended its inpatient services to the sick and needy from all races. From that day onwards, the hospital was renamed as Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital (KWSH).
Two years ago (in 2013) with the Government’s approval, KWSH’s Board of Directors decided to redevelop the hospital including the addition of a new 12-storey building. It aspires to become an Integrated Community Hub that will provide a wide range healthcare services upon its completion in 2017. The total estimated cost of the redevelopment is S$96 million.
The hospital would also see an increase in the number of hospital beds, from 350 to more than 600 beds, making it the largest single-site nursing home in Singapore. The TCM and Home Care Services will also be expanded, in addition to more partnerships with other community organisations to enhance KWSH’s healthcare services.
Proposed plan for ‘Special Discharge Programme’
Mr Lee Kwok Kie, Chairman of KWSH, said in an interview that the hospital is planning to implement a ‘Special Discharge Programme’ pilot scheme, encouraging patients to be discharged with comprehensive home care services. Discharged patients under the scheme will enjoy professional home nursing services at a privileged rate or at no cost.
Mr Lee reiterated, “The care given to these patients (in the pilot scheme) will not be any less than what we offer to our patients in our nursing home. The patient’s bed availability will also be retained for a period of time in the event he or she is not able to adapt to the ‘Special Discharge Programme’. The patient may return to KWSH without having to queue for bed availability. This scheme will help alleviate the bed crunch at hospitals if successful.”
He pointed out that patients will also be happier living in the comfort of their homes with their loved ones. KWSH hopes that the scheme will achieve a win-win situation for everyone involved.
Regarding the issue of donations to KWSH, Mr Lee said “We are thankful for the unwavering support and generosity from the kind donors. We hope to garner more support from the community as the hospital estimates an annual expenditure of 27 million dollars, far exceeding the current annual expenditure of 17 million, once operational.”