Groundbreaking ceremony on July 29. From left: Assisi Hospice Board chairman Ronny Tan, hospice patron Madam Ho Ching, Archbishop William Goh, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong and Sr Barbara Pereira, FMDM.Groundbreaking ceremony on July 29. From left: Assisi Hospice Board chairman Ronny Tan, hospice patron Madam Ho Ching, Archbishop William Goh, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong and Sr Barbara Pereira, FMDM.

By May 2016, the new Assisi Hospice, with vastly expanded facilities, will be able to serve more than double its present number of inpatients.

The new hospice, which will be situated adjacent to the current building in Thomson, will have 85 beds, more than double the 37 it currently has, as well as cater to more day centre patients.

The number of home care teams will also be increased.

In addition, the hospice will have a 16-bedded ward with unique dementia-friendly equipment and gadgets to address the needs of these patients.

Artist’s impression of the new six-storey building.Artist’s impression of the new six-storey building.A ground-breaking ceremony for the new six-storey building was held on July 29.

Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong and Archbishop William Goh officiated at the ceremony; together with Madam Ho Ching, Patron of the Assisi Hospice; Sr Barbara Pereira, Regional Leader of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood (FMDM); and Mr Ronny Tan, chairman of the Assisi Hospice Board.

The hospice was established by the FMDM Sisters in 1969.

Speaking during the ceremony, Mr Gan said that the dementia-friendly ward, as well as a paediatric palliative care ward the hospice will set up, will be the first of their kind in Singapore.

He added that there will be “more than 10,000 Singaporeans in need of end-of-life care” by 2020, therefore the new building is “a timely project to support the needs of the community, not only with increased capacity for more patients, but also in catering to the special needs of paediatric and patients with life-limiting illnesses and concomitant dementia”.

According to Sr Barbara, in 2012 alone, Assisi Hospice served 1,080 people in its three main areas of inpatient, home and day care.

Hospice CEO Assoc Prof Premarani Kannusamy said the new building will be a “purpose-built healing environment for patients and families” that “supports care giving and care givers”.

She also told CatholicNews that the dementia-friendly palliative care ward will have a closed loop leading to and from the ward through a bridge and sensory garden.

This is to prevent patients from wandering out of the ward, she said.

The event also saw Archbishop Goh blessing the new hospice’s cornerstone.

A celebration held in conjunction with Nurses’ Day, Aug 1, followed.

“It is not easy [to be a nurse],” Archbishop Goh told the hospice’s nurses present.

“I identify because I am a priest…I reach out to patients as well, people who need physical healing, emotional healing and spiritual healing. [But] when I reach out to them, I grow, I am enriched,” he said.

“Nursing is a vocation, it is a vocation to love.”

The family of the late Madam Kamala Krishnan, a former Mount Alvernia Hospital nursing officer and Assisi patient, then presented three of her paintings to Mr Gan, Archbishop Goh and Madam Ho Ching as tokens of appreciation.

Madam Krishnan was an avid painter.

By Clara Lai
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