Mount Alvernia Hospital
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Opened in 1961, Mount Alvernia Hospital is the only non-profit private hospital in Singapore. It is part of the Franciscan Missionaries of Divine Motherhood global network and is founded on Christian values. Located at 820 Thomson Road, it encompasses a hospital, a 24-hour clinic, health screening centre, specialist clinics, pharmacies and retail outlets.
In 1949, a small group of Franciscan missionaries were invited by the local colonial government to take up nursing posts in Tan Tock Seng Hospital. They started a training school for nurses and also nursed leprosy patients at Trafalgar Home. Seeing the overcrowded medical facilities, the sisters decided to set up a private Catholic hospital. Founded by Reverend Mother Mary Francis, the hospital cost $1.6 million to set up. The sisters from the Franciscan Order gave 10 years of pay towards defraying this cost. Donors and well-wishers also contributed to the funding.
One of the key donors, Lee Kong Chian, officially opened the hospital on 4 March 1961. Over 200 people attended the opening, including Minister for Labour and Law K. M. Bryne. When the hospital was first opened, it had only 60 beds and was fully staffed by 35 Roman Catholic nurses. In its first four months, about 10% of the patients received free treatment. The Catholic Archbishop of Singapore, Gregory Yong, was treated there after a heart attack.
Mother Mary Francis left Singapore soon after the hospital’s opening but visited it again in 1970.
A decade after its opening, an extension to the main hospital building was added at a cost of S$2 million. Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew opened the extension in 1971. The extension included three operating theatres, 70 beds, an outpatient department, laboratories and physiotherapy services.
The Franciscan sisters ran the hospital until 1987. In 1990, it hired British-based group Health Management Trust to take over the running of the hospital. The new management further developed the hospital by building a new wing.
The Franciscan order maintained their presence in the hospital operations. By 2009, there were still 22 Franciscan nuns serving at the hospital. However, no one new had joined them for more than a decade.
In 2010, the hospital spent $6 million renovating the building, adding more single rooms, medical suites and parking lots. This gave patients more options when choosing rooms.
As a non-profit hospital, Mount Alvernia provides medical services that are relatively cheaper than other private hospitals in Singapore. It now has 303 beds and hires over 1,000 doctors and specialists. The hospital started offering specialised health care in 1995 through specialist outpatient clinics on the hospital premises. Besides medical services, it also runs community health outreach programmes for senior citizens through collaborations with the People’s Association and Singapore Buddhist Association. In addition, it provides counselling for patients and relatives through its clinical pastoral care team.
Assisi Hospice, a charitable organisation under the umbrella of the National Council of Social Services, was set up in 1993. Previously, the hospital had provided palliative treatment for chronically ill patients in one wing of Mount Alvernia, built using donations from philanthropist Khoo Teck Puat. The 35-bed hospice is located next to the hospital and provides inpatient treatment, day care and home care services for the chronically ill. Patients admitted to the hospice pay subsidised rates.
Over the years, Mount Alvernia has become known for its obstetric and paediatric services. It is one of two hospitals in Singapore offering massage courses taught by physiotherapists to parents for their children. Recently, it also ventured into medical tourism by setting up specialty services in various centres such as the Sports Medicine and Surgery Centre and Brain Centre. Such ventures targeted foreign patients and aimed to cover the cost of overheads and fund its subsidiaries such as Assisi Hospice. Any annual surplus earned was channelled into upgrading the hospital and hospice.
Mount Alvernia has also been recognised for its good management. The hospital provides mechanised scrubbers and automated trolleys to assist older workers. It was lauded for being the first private hospital in Singapore that openly shares data on its bills to help patients in choosing a hospital. The hospital was awarded the Singapore Quality Class (SQC) Award by Spring Singapore for its organisational excellence. It also won the Heritage Brand Award in the Singapore Prestige Brand Award in 2010.
1949 : Arrival of Franciscan nuns in Singapore on invitation of local government to take up nursing posts
1961 : Opening of Mount Alvernia Hospital.
1969 : New wing built from donations from Khoo Teck Puat.
1971 : Opened a $2 million extension to the main building.
1990 : Health Management Trust took over the running of the hospital. Built a new wing.
1992 : The sisters vacated their convent and turned it into a hospice.
1993 : Opened Assisi Hospice.
1995 : Started running specialist outpatient clinics.
2004 : Announced plans to attract medical tourists.
2010 : Renovated at a cost of $10 million.
Faizah bte Zakaria
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(Call no.: RSING 362.11095957 MOU)
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(Call no.: RSING 362.11095957 RA)
The information in this article is valid as at 2011 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.