By Tan Tock Seng Hospital in collaboration with Ren Ci Community Hospital and Ang Mo Kio - Thye Hua Kwan Hospital
On 26 April, Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) became Singapore’s first hospital COVID-19 cluster in many months. We emerged from the cluster in just four weeks, thanks to our teamwork both within the hospital and with many helping hands: this success must also be attributed to our community partners who were ever-ready to help.
As an acute hospital, careful bed management is crucial to ensure that incoming ill patients are assigned with timely beds. However, during the cluster outbreak that began in late April, there were stricter restrictions in place for discharges to nursing homes; the Ministry of Health issued a circular stating that discharges could only be effected after 28 May. This meant that there was a backlog of patients who had been slated for discharge to nursing homes.
Thankfully, our community partners from Ren Ci Community Hospital (RCCH) and Ang Mo Kio - Thye Hua Kwan Hospital (AMK-THKH) stepped in to offer a helping hand. Collaboratively, TTSH, RCCH and AMK-THKH introduced a transfer arrangement where TTSH patients who were medically fit for discharge could await their nursing home placements at the community hospitals, freeing up beds for other patients with more serious conditions.
Community hospitals like RCCH and AMK-THKH play a vital role in providing rehabilitative and continuing care to patients to further support their recovery after their discharge from an acute hospital setting. Offering patient-centred care, the interim transfer arrangement enabled our TTSH patients to benefit from the personalised care provided by community hospitals while waiting for their nursing homes placements.
Mr K was one such patient who benefitted from this arrangement. Although Mr K had planned for discharge to a nursing home on 2 May, but due to the tightened measures, he would only able to do so on 28 May. With this unique arrangement in place, however, Mr K was transferred to RCCH’s care on 17 May before his eventual discharge to a nursing home on 31 May.
The handling of such transfers during normal times requires teamwork and communication between the staff at TTSH and the staff at partner hospitals AMK-THKH and RCCH. It is largely due to the collaborative efforts of the Nursing team, the Medical Social Workers and the Bed Management Unit, with support from the Agency of Integrated Care (AIC), that enabled the successful admission and discharge of patients to their desired nursing homes.
Similarly, at the height of the 2021 COVID-19 cluster, our close partnership with the AMK-THKH team enabled the safe transfer of 27 patients to their hospital as our patients awaited their desired nursing home placements. Despite the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, the AMK-THKH staff displayed professionalism to provide the highest quality of care to our patients while taking the necessary precautions to keep themselves and their patients safe.
Other partners like St Luke’s Residences nursing home also expedited the opening of their beds to increase the intake of TTSH patients.
The close-knit relationships and long drawn bridges between TTSH and our community partners saw us through this difficult period. A steady outflow was necessary to better optimise TTSH’s manpower to support the ramp up in pandemic response, and to ensure the safe re-opening of the hospital to the public. We look forward to fostering new relationships and forging closer bonds with our community partners as we collaboratively work towards our common goal of delivering better care to our patients.
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Issue 11: August 2021