A novel solution to meet the pandemic head-on
At the height of the pandemic, Community Care Facilities (CCFs) were rapidly deployed to care for the burgeoning number of COVID-19 patients. CCFs provided a novel approach to delivering care for patients who are infected with COVID-19 but have milder symptoms and do not require hospitalisation. CCFs allowed hospitals to prioritise more critical cases.
Numerous Ministry of Health (MOH) divisions, public and private organisations leapt into action at short notice. Together, they set up and run CCFs across the island, from the Singapore Expo to the Changi Exhibition Centre and Tuas South. This included two groups from MOHT.
The first was led by Professor Gerald Koh (Head & Clinical Director, Future Primary Care), who drew on MOHT’s experience in remote vital signs monitoring (VSM) to lead its implementation at Singapore Expo, the nation’s largest CCF. The growing demand on healthcare staff, coupled with the need for patients to be isolated, made CCFs an ideal site for the use of remote telehealth technology.
Professor Koh’s team came up with a solution that enabled CCF residents to measure and submit their vital signs themselves via an online system. This allowed healthcare staff to monitor their residents’ conditions closely without having to administer the devices for them, which would have brought risks of infection. When a reading was abnormal, the system automatically flagged this on a dashboard to a member of the healthcare team, allowing the team to quickly identify and prioritise those residents who required attention. With the help of partners such as Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS), the VSM system was deployed in a matter of weeks, with almost immediate results.
“When CCFs started, VSM compliance was only around 20%. But by the end of the second week of operations, almost all residents in the halls had learnt to measure all four vital signs (temperature, HR, BP and oxygen saturation) and enter their readings into their iPad on their own,” Professor Koh said.
The second group was led by Lim Cher Wee (Chief Operating Officer & Head, Integrated General Hospital). With direction from MOH, Cher Wee led the formation and development of the Community Facility Task Group (CF TG). CF TG provided the liaison platforms between CCFs and the Ministry to rapidly understand issues on the ground and develop solutions for these issues. CF TG established a Medical Board, created and streamlined CCF guidelines, digitalised CCF discharge memos and coordinated forward planning of CCF services.
The CCFs delivered a broad range of capabilities from infrastructure development and supply chain to security and medical care delivery. These capabilities have been realised with the support of partners and volunteers across private companies, public agencies, VWOs and interest groups. These partnerships lent strength and speed to the CCF response effort.
Today, CCFs such as Singapore Expo have largely stood down with the diminishing number of COVID-19 patients. MOHT’s staff and projects continue to contribute to the national efforts against COVID-19.
This is the first in a series of posts detailing MOHT's contributions to the fight against COVID-19. Keep a look out for future posts on epidemiology, apps for migrant worker health and safety and contributions towards the gradual opening of Singapore' s economy.