Thirty years ago, the space adjacent to TTSH main block was not vacant. Prof Chew Chin Hin, Emeritus Consultant, still vividly recalls the hustle and bustle of the first designated centre for TB treatment: Rotary Clinic.
The clinic is named after Rotary Club, which funded the construction of the building.
Very often, we saw more than 300 patients a day, doubled from the 150 capacity planned for this outpatient clinic!" he recalled.
The clinic truly served its patients well. In late 70s, when Orthopaedic and other patients were also seen at the Rotary Clinic, we had to convert part of the courtyard for more patients to seat and had a metal roof erected," said Prof Chew who was TTSH Medical Director, 1979-1981.
The building also became the home to Tuberculosis Research Committee, which was pioneered by Dr Yeoh Seang Aun, Dr JMJ Supramaniam, Prof Chew Chin Hin, Dr William Chan, and Dr S Devi.
Through a joint effort with Prof Wallace Fox from British Research Medical Research Council, this committee introduced the revolutionary breakthrough of TB treatment such as reducing the therapeutic regime from a maximum period 24 months to just 6 months. This team also discovered the "short course regimens under full supervision" programme, which is presently known as DOT (Directly Observed Treatment).
Although the Committee no longer exists today, I am glad to know that our Tuberculosis Control Unit continues the great work for TB research and development." Prof Chew said.
Together with other buildings occupying the area, Rotary Clinic was demolished just before our current site was up in the 90s. Currently, our TB patients are seen at the Specialist Outpatient Clinic K.