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Role of community hospitals will grow as population ages, says SM Tharman

SINGAPORE – The role of community hospitals will grow as Singapore’s population ages and chronic diseases become more frequent in the coming years.

Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for Social Policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam said this in his address to viewers at a virtual charity concert, Voices Of Light, organised by St Luke’s Hospital on Friday (Nov 6).

In his address, Mr Tharman emphasised the important place of community hospitals in Singapore’s evolving healthcare and social support system.

“Well beyond Covid, the role of our community hospitals like St Luke’s will grow. Like every society as it gets older, chronic diseases become much more frequent, more pronounced.

“The best way to deal with people with chronic diseases, to provide the best possible care for them is not just in acute hospitals when they need operations but by helping them and caring for them after the operations,” said Mr Tharman.

He cited physiotherapy, occupational and speech therapy as some of the areas of care that community hospitals play a part in providing.

Noting how St Luke’s Hospital has been caring for its patients in a holistic way since it accepted its first patient in 1996, Mr Tharman added that this whole care provision around the patient was “not just the physical and medical aspects, but also the social and emotional”.

With several fundraising events cancelled, St Luke’s Hospital organised the virtual charity concert for the first time this year, raising $600,000 for their patients in need.

During the concert, donors were treated to performances by home-grown soprano-soloist Lauren Yeo, violinist Yap Shu Mei and singer-songwriter Crystal Goh.

The hospital’s front-line staff were also part of a dance choreographed by jazz dance specialist Sinclair Ang and performed in the hospital gym. The night wrapped with a choir performance put together by volunteers from the hospital’s foundation members.

The first hospital in Singapore dedicated to the sick elderly, St Luke’s Hospital expanded its services and currently cares for 2,000 inpatients and 3,000 outpatients each year.


(From left) Concert music director Eric Watson, with soprano-soloist Lauren Yeo, violinist Yap Shu Mei and singer-songwriter Crystal Goh. PHOTO: ST LUKE’S HOSPITAL

The hospital thanked donors for their support to patients amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

A spokesman for the hospital said: “As a charity, St Luke’s Hospital raises funds to meet the needs of patients. Chronic conditions such as diabetes must still be managed. Wounds must still be cleaned. Therapy is still needed so people can regain their ability to carry out activities of daily living. Persons with dementia and their caregivers still need help coping day and night.

“The concert is our biggest fundraiser of the year and it has raised $600,000 to date. This is a significant amount by any measure, all the more so considering the economic downturn. We are grateful to our donors for their kindness, and to the concert performers and crew for their hard work.”

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