Ren Ci Community Hospital (RCCH)
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Inaugurated on 1 December 2008 by Ren Ci Hospital and Medicare Centre (RCHMC), Ren Ci Community Hospital (RCCH) provides rehabilitative and recuperative care for patients who require extended hospital stays. The community hospital is situated next to Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) and a bridge links the two buildings.
RCCH is located at Irrawaddy road and has been in operation since 1 December 2008. The community hospital has a rehabilitation centre, a traditional Chinese medicine clinic as well as training facilities for caregivers, employees and volunteers. The hospital is equipped with a total of 277 beds, of which 154 are allocated as beds for the chronically ill while the rest are standard community hospital beds.
Collaboration with TTHS
RCCH works closely with the neighbouring general hospital, Tan Tock Seng Hospital. Such collaborative efforts are part of the government initiative that aims to integrate the different stages of healthcare in Singapore. On 20 January 2009, RCHMC and TTSH signed an agreement aiming to provide better healthcare through collaboration. A Joint Clinical Governance Working Committee was also formed to ease the process of transferring patients between the two hospitals. The joint committee meets once a month to discuss both clinical and administrative issues.
Patients who require intermediate or long-term care are usually transferred from TTSH to the community hospital after their conditions have stabilised, thereby freeing up beds in the acute general hospital. Such patient transfers between the two hospitals are especially useful in the peak periods of the year, when TTSH experiences acute bed shortages. As the community hospital focuses on caregiving, its nurses are able to give more attention to patients than the nurses at the general hospital. Volunteers also help elderly patients to pass time with their visits. At the same time, TTSH shares its medical expertise with the community hospital. The proximity of the two hospitals allows the doctors at TTSH to follow up with their patients in RCCH.
A bridge linking RCCH and TTSH was completed in December 2009 and it has eased patient transfers between the two hospitals. When the community hospital commenced operations in December 2008, there was a monthly transfer of 40 patients from TTSH to RCCH. In January 2010, a month after the completion of the bridge, the number of patients transferred increased to 80 per month. Such step-down care at the community hospital also makes medical expenses more affordable for patients as RCCH offers rates that are 20 to 30 percent lower than those of the larger general hospitals.
At the same time, the differences in means testing potentially discourage patients from switching to staying at the community hospital. At TTSH, a patient’s ability to pay for their hospital bill is dependent on their individual income. At RCCH, however, the subsidy given to the patient is based on their household income. This means testing criteria easily disqualifies patients who have working spouses or children. Although such issues persist, the benefits of collaborative efforts are nevertheless considerable. Attempts to close such gaps in the system are ongoing.
Other collaborations in healthcare
In January 2010, the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) started a two-year project for the bulk purchase of necessities for medical institutions. RCCH is one of 30 healthcare institutions in Singapore that have joined the AIC project. Through the benefits of economies of scale, such an effort helps to reduce overall operating costs. Manpower also becomes more efficiently employed in these institutions, since they do not need to divert sources for the management and selection of these purchases. Such manpower could be employed towards the main purpose of caregiving instead.
In 2007, RCHMC’s founder and CEO, Buddhist monk Ming Yi, was arrested and tried for financial irregularities involving the misappropriation of S$50,000. As a result, RCHMC lost its Institution of Public Character (IPC) status. In January 2010, Ming Yi was sentenced to 10 months in prison for the misappropriation of funds and for deceiving the Commissioner of Charities.
The RCHMC held its annual charity show in 2007, but the fundraiser was put off for several years thereafter due to the financial scandal. During this time, donations plunged and operational costs rose from S$15 million to S$30 million, in particular after the opening of the community hospital in 2008. RCHMC thus needed to raise funds to avoid dipping into its reserves of S$22 million, which, in was calculated, could sustain the hospital for only two years.
In August 2009, RCHMC recovered its IPC status and officially resumed fundraising. On 24 January 2010, the charity held its annual fundraising charity show on television in which it raised more than S$7 million, surpassing the initial target of S$4 million set by the community hospital. The NTUC FairPrice Foundation also donated S$500,000 to the charity in the same month. The donation is the first ever from the foundation to the RCHMC, and is also the largest sum the RCHMC has received since the 2007 financial scandal. In addition, donation boxes were also placed at FairPrice outlets throughout Singapore from mid-January to 31 March 2010 to aid in RCHMC's fundraising efforts for the year.
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Tan Tock Seng Hospital. (2009). Joint Media Release – Clinical Governance collaboration agreement between Ren Ci Hospital & Medicare Centre and Tan Tock Seng Hospital [Press Release]. Retrieved January 8, 2010, from http://www.ttsh.com.sg/new/newsroom/press_20jan09.htm
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The information in this article is valid as at 2010 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.
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