New community care facilities for stable COVID-19 patients with underlying conditions: MOH
SINGAPORE: New community care facilities will be set up to provide clinical care to COVID-19 patients who are stable but have underlying conditions, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Sunday (Sep 19).
Patients who will be admitted to such facilities include those who have symptoms or are generally clinically-well but have underlying conditions that require a closer monitoring of their disease course.
MOH said this will augment Singapore's 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 hospitals.
These new "stepped-up" community care facilities will provide more comprehensive medical coverage and can manage elderly patients who are stable, have mild symptoms and/or have underlying chronic illnesses or comorbidities that could make them more prone to falling more ill.
The Health Ministry added that while such 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," said MOH.
The new stepped-up community care facility will also be staffed with more medical personnel and provided with medical monitoring devices “to ensure the optimal level of care for these patients”, added the ministry.
FIRST FACILITY WILL BE IN TAMPINES
MOH said it is working with Woodlands Health to set up the first such facility by repurposing NTUC Health Nursing Home (Tampines).
The facility will have 250 beds and will be operational on Sep 23.
Residents of the nursing home have been transferred to other branches of NTUC Health Nursing Home, the Health Ministry said.
"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."
Suitable COVID-19 patients from nursing homes will be prioritised for admission to these new facilities, said MOH, adding that this will help to mitigate potential further spread within residential long-term care facilities should cases be detected among their residents.
MOH said that it is also working with its existing service providers to enhance some existing community care facilities to operate part of their capacity as stepped-up community care facilities.
This includes Raffles Medical Group’s community care facility at Connect@Changi. This facility will provide 50 of such beds when it becomes fully operational on Sep 24.
MOH URGES THOSE WITH NO OR MILD SYMPTOMS NOT TO VISIT A&E
As an increasing number of COVID-19 patients are being admitted to community care facilities, these facilities will now operate around-the-clock, MOH said.
The extended timing for conveyance to these facilities will expedite care for COVID-19 cases.
"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 community care facilities."
The Health Ministry also said it is monitoring hospital capacity and urged those with mild symptoms to visit a general practitioner at a Swab and Send Home clinic instead of going to the hospital.
COVID-19 cases who are asymptomatic “should continue to stay home and seek telemedicine consultation first if they start to feel unwell”, MOH said.
“This is to prevent fruitless trips to the A&E (accident and emergency) departments which may inadvertently increase the risk of them transmitting COVID-19 to the others in the community,” the ministry added.