What’s the difference between General and Community Hospital in Singapore?

Being admitted to a hospital can be quite unsettling and confusing. That’s why it is important for seniors to understand the difference between general hospitals like Singapore General Hospital(SGH) or National University Hospital(NUH) versus a class of hospitals referred to as community hospitals – such as Ang Mo Kio-Thye Hua Kwan Hospital or Jurong Community Hospital.

General hospitals provide what is termed as “acute care” and caters for patient in need of short-term treatment for severe trauma or illness or serious medical condition including surgery. The MOH handbook defines “community hospitals” as institutions that “provide medical services for patients who require a short period of continuation of care, usually after their discharge from the acute hospitals.” In summary, community hospital is a step-down care for those who need them that continues to provide medical, nursing and rehabilitation care.

Here are some of the things you should know about how the two types of hospitals can work to better serve you.

  • Typically, you are expected to only stay in the acute care hospital for a much shorter period than a community hospital. For example, if you have hip surgery in an acute care hospital, you may stay for 3-5 days. You will then be discharged to a community hospital to continue your recovery or rehabilitation for up to 2-3 weeks. As acute care hospitals are more intensive and costly, it makes good sense to discharge patients to community hospitals to continue their recovery.
  • When you are referred to a community hospital, a personalised care plan would be created and discussed with you by a medical team that consists of doctors, nurses and allied health professionals (like physiotherapist or speech therapist). Periodically, the medical team will also provide progress updates with the patient and their family members.
  • The acute care hospital and community hospital work closely together. Normally, if there is a need, the doctor at the acute care hospital can be consulted by their counterparts in the community hospital about the patient’s ongoing treatment and condition. In the event of a problem, the patient can be also transferred back to the acute care hospital for further investigation or treatment. The ideal system is for the acute care and community hospital to have a seamless coordination. That is why some of the acute care and community hospitals are co-located together under the same healthcare cluster in Singapore. For example, the Jurong Community Hospital and Ng Teng Fong General Hospital are located next to each other and are managed under the National University Health System(NUHS).

In most cases, when you are discharged from the community hospital – that should ideally be the end of your care plan and you are good to go. For some that are not so lucky and require further help, the community hospitals can also recommend day rehabilitation or home care. As part of their service, caregiver education is also a normal part of the community hospital program.

As a potential patient, it is important for you to understand the role of each type of institution and how they would care for you. If it all goes well, they should seamlessly work together to get you the best care possible.

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