- POSTED: 10 Jan 2014 18:08
This graph is an experimental feature that tracks number of views over time.
Tan Tock Seng Hospital has said it has faced high demand for bed space since the start of the year, but the situation is starting to improve.
SINGAPORE: Tan Tock Seng Hospital has said it has faced high demand for bed space since the start of the year, but the situation is starting to improve.
Its bed occupancy rate on Friday is 93 per cent, compared to last week, when it hit a rate of 96.9 per cent on January 2.
The hospital has also assured the public that patient care has not been compromised.
The bed occupancy rate at Tan Tock Seng Hospital has been above 90 per cent since the start of the new year.
The hospital said any bed occupancy rate above 85 per cent will put a stress on its system.
On average, the waiting time for a bed at the hospital is between three to five hours.
But since the start of the new year, more patients have been waiting for over 10 hours.
The hospital has put in place several initiatives to manage the situation.
These include setting up beds along corridors and diverting patients to other hospitals such as Alexandra Hospital.
To free up bed space for patients needing acute care, two recovery wards at the Communicable Diseases Centre 2 were opened up for sub-acute care patients over the weekend.
At the same time, the sub-acute wards at Ren Ci Community Hospital also helped to take some of the patient load. These wards have 156 beds.
Patients who come to the hospital's Emergency Department requiring urgent treatment are given priority.
Once patients reach the Emergency Department, they are triaged according to how ill they are. After consultation with the doctor, the urgent cases are admitted, while the less critical ones are put into the observation ward until the next available bed is ready, though treatment does start there.
Dr Eugene Fidelis Soh, chief operating officer of Tan Tock Seng Hospital, said: "We would bring down our specialists in order to take care of them in the Emergency Department and when the bed is available, we will expedite their admission. Should there be no beds available in the system at that point in time, we would open up temporary beds that will allow these patients to be first admitted so that their main clinical team can look after their needs as soon as possible.
"We hope to also improve our communication with our patients so that we can reduce a bit of their anxiety about the wait, so we have added some staff from our Quality Management Department, to go down to explain to the patients about the bed wait and to address any needs that they may have."
With the Lunar New Year around the corner, Dr Soh said the hospital is prepared to deal with the expected surge for beds that typically follows the festive period.
That is because it continuously monitors the bed occupancy rates, so is able to forecast and prepare for a high peak period.
Dr Soh said: "During the Chinese New Year period, the bed occupancy tends to drop because the patients may request to return to celebrate the New Year with their families and the doctors will try their best to facilitate that when that is clinically appropriate.
"That in itself builds up a buffer for when... the bed occupancy may go up after the New Year so we will put in place plans to look at surge capacity. We have our temporary beds that we may have to use if we cross the high bed occupancy."
To further free up bed space at the hospital, patients who are fit for discharge but are waiting for nursing home placements are housed at the Buffer Stepdown Unit.
Patients at the Buffer Stepdown Unit could stay for a couple of weeks to a month. The duration of their stay depends on their needs for nursing care in the nursing home.
And by next year, the hospital plans to open up a short stay ward, called the Medical Ambulatory Centre, to monitor patients with stable conditions, for post-procedure monitoring and for patients who undergo procedures such as blood transfusion, chemotherapy and biopsy.