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One-stop centre at NUH for heart care

22-Apr-2011 (Fri) Home, The Straits Times

By Fiona Low

New facility will take holistic approach and focus on six key areas of cardiovascular care

Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan chatting with a patient during his visit to the new NUH heart centre for its official opening ceremony yesterday. Beside him is centre director Tan Huay Cheem (left). PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

THE National University Hospital’s (NUH) new heart centre will be a one-stop centre for heart patients, with its own dedicated cardiovascular nursing and operations team.

Officially opened yesterday, the centre will focus on six areas of cardiovascular care: heart failure, congenital heart disease, acute coronary syndrome, vascular disease, women’s heart health and heart rhythm disorder.

Its new three-storey building also brings together several departments that used to be scattered across the hospital grounds. These are the cardiac, and thoracic and vascular surgery departments, and the Cardiovascular Research Institute.

Associate Professor Tan Huay Cheem, director of the new heart centre, said the focus is on a “holistic and comprehensive approach to treating heart disease”. As part of this approach, the new centre even has a garden created by multi-media artist Tan Swie Hian, featuring various sculptures and poems about the heart.

At the opening ceremony yesterday, Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan expressed his happiness with the setting up of Singapore’s second heart centre, given the existing National Heart Centre’s growing workload. This centre is meant to complement the Outram Road facility and take over some of its patient load.

NUH sees about 62,000 outpatients for heart illnesses yearly. With its increased capacity, the new heart centre will be able to see about 10 per cent more patients. This is expected to adequately handle sustained increases in workload for at least the next six to eight years, said Prof Tan.

The new centre’s six key focus areas are meant to address the problems that come with Singapore’s ageing population.

Its women’s heart health clinic is also the first of its kind in Singapore. Cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease and stroke, is the No. 1 killer among women in Singapore.

There is also the addition of a cardiac rehabilitation centre which will provide aerobic and weight-resistance training to improve patients’ heart health.

With the new centre, floor space has increased by more than three times. The number of clinics and laboratories has also been increased by about 50 per cent to cater to a larger number of patients. With the centre up and running, Mr Khaw said the challenge now is to gather the manpower needed. “Physically, there is nothing to complain about, the space is more than enough for the next stage of expansion.” The focus now “is to make sure that we continue to attract and be able to retain our fair share of talent”.

He named the new upcoming medical school at Nanyang Technological University as one avenue for developing such “software”.