TTSH celebrates centennial of its surgical practice

The Straits Times (29 July 2012)

Tan Tock Seng Hospital used to have only one operating theatre and, at one point, gas was piped in to feed lights to allow for operations after dark.

That fact is in a book which charts the hospital's surgical history from the late 19th century.

This year marks the centennial of the hospital's surgical practice, a landmark event which was celebrated last night with a dinner for its doctors, nurses and staff at the Shangri-La Hotel.

The dinner was graced by former president SR Nathan - who joined the hospital in 1955 as a medical social worker - and Health Minister Gan Kim Yong.

To mark the occasion, the hospital showcased photographs depicting a day in the life of one of its surgical teams, taken by The Straits Times' picture editor Stephanie Yeow and two others, and also unveiled the book.

Between 1886 and 1912, the number of operations carried out rose from just 16 to 941.

It was in 1912 - 100 years ago - that the hospital formally created the post of surgeon to address a growing public demand for surgical expertise in colonial Singapore.

The job was filled by its then resident medical officer, Dr J. Gray.

In a pre-dinner speech, Mr Nathan spoke of how far the hospital has come since those early days and praised its doctors and nurses for retaining 'the same values of compassion and care'.

He also reminded the hospital of the challenges ahead, given that Singapore is the third fastest-ageing nation in the world. The country is 'racing against time to prepare for geriatric health issues', he added.

David Ee

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Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.