75 seniors admitted to first Covid community treatment facility
The Tampines venue cares for stable and mildly symptomatic older patients who have underlying conditions
About 75 seniors with Covid-19 have been admitted to Singapore's first community treatment facility (CTF) so far, Dr Wong Kirk Chuan, chief operating officer of Woodlands Health, which runs the CTF, said yesterday.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) announced on Sept 19 that the facility would be set up in response to rising Covid-19 cases here over the last month.
Located on the site of the NTUC Health Nursing Home in Tampines, the CTF opened and began receiving its first patients on Sept 23, one week after MOH approached Woodlands Health for assistance, said Dr Wong.
It is meant to care for senior patients who are stable and mildly symptomatic but have underlying chronic illnesses or comorbidities - such as a weakened immune system - that put them at higher risk of getting sicker.
Woodlands Health, which had previously set up and managed community care facilities (CCFs), such as those at the Expo, tapped its past experience to set up the new CTF.
Dr Nicholas Chew, chairman of Woodlands Health's medical board, said: "We leaned on our staff who had set up the Expo site, so the learning curve was very short. They had the experience, and we essentially ended up pulling together the same team that had set up the Expo (CCF) and transplanting what they had learnt, as well as tweaking it based on the location."
Some adjustments had to be made as the patients at the new CTF would be senior rather than young, but "it was a matter of us tweaking workflows".
Aside from Woodlands Health staff, manpower was also brought in from private sector partners that had helped at the Expo, as well as the Health Promotion Board, National Skin Centre, Tan Tock Seng Hospital and the National Centre for Infectious Diseases.
So far, three of the facility's five levels have been opened and are receiving patients, and more will be opened if necessary, said Dr Wong. It has a capacity of about 250 beds.
The CTF also has various diagnostic facilities on-site, such as ultrasound devices and X-ray machines. Simple blood tests can be carried out, with samples sent to partner laboratories.
One key aspect of looking after seniors with Covid-19 is ensuring their physical fitness does not deteriorate.
"These are people who are in the community - they are extremely ambulant, they are actually doing very well. But if we (admit them) into an environment where they have to lie down, they would decondition very quickly," he said.
To address that, physiotherapists and occupational therapists have been brought in to engage the senior patients daily in exercises and activities.
Dr Chew said there is no fixed programme for the patients, but aside from the daily exercises they are encouraged to take part in, TVs and Wi-Fi are also provided, and there are communal spaces where they can interact with one another and play games such as mahjong as well.
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