In 2014, NHCS made the monumental move from Mistri Wing to a brand new 12-storey building at 5 Hospital Drive. The new building had a unique copper-coloured façade that looked like skin. 

Fun fact: The perforated ‘skin’ shields the building from the hot afternoon sun. With eco-friendly features such as open spaces, rain collection and water-saving fixtures, NHCS became one of the first buildings on SGH campus to attain the Green Mark certificate from the Building and Construction Authority (BCA), recognising its sustainable design.

(L-R): The NHCS building in 2014 is strikingly different from 2024 which is presently set amidst a busier backdrop and skyline with several ongoing developments on campus. 

Ten years on, the building still looks great. As the SGH campus undergoes transformation, NHCS has also been upgrading our facilities and services to improve the experience for both patient and staff. Let us look at the key changes we have made! 

1. Enhancing Patient Experience

Food Options

The food options at NHCS have changed a lot in the last ten years. When the building started operations, there was only one food court – Café@Heart, run by Mr Lim, who used to manage the former Houseman Corner on campus. Café@Heart was popular for six years before it was replaced by HEART operated by Kopitiam and most recently by SG Hawker. During this time, another alfresco food stall, Kaffe & Toast was added, which has since expanded its footprint to offer a wider menu and more seating. 

 “We work closely with SingHealth Retail Shared Services and adhere to a vigorous process to ensure that we bring in vendors that meet high standards for quality and safety,” said Jimmy Sum, Assistant Director, Operations (Support Services). Jimmy shared that more options were brought in such as a weekly fruit stall with a variety of fresh tropical fruits and a vibrant monthly bazaar offering various products, food and health items. “These options are made possible thanks to our close partnerships with vendors and the continuous support from our staff,” he added. 

Visit and Patient Flow 

NHCS sees more than 100,000 outpatients annually so it is no surprise that our clinics are some of the busiest areas in the building. Besides NHCS, the clinical laboratory (for blood test) on level two also serves patients from SGH and SKH. With the increasing number of patients, the cardiac clinics operations team set up self-registration kiosks and enabled appointments to be made immediately after a consultation or ward discharge to smoothen the blood test process for patients and staff.

The cardiac clinics on level four also adopted the same approach. Since 2021, the space was redesigned to enhance the patient journey and experience. The clinics have added self-registration kiosks, relocated the patient assessment room and installed clearer signages, and clearly demarcated the waiting areas for consultations. A major initiative that has augmented the clinics’ workflow change was the job redesign and training for Patient Service Associates (PSAs) that has empowered our ancillary staff as they grow with their jobs.  


2. A Better Place to Work and Rest

Staff wellness

The well-being of our staff is a key priority at NHCS. More rest areas have been added to ensure staff can recharge to better care for themselves and others. For instance, the previously empty balcony outside the Short Stay Unit’s staff pantry was transformed into a welcoming space with tables, chairs, and a shelter for staff to take breaks and get some fresh air. Similar changes were made in the wards. At the staff lounge on level eight, massage chairs are also available for staff. Fun fact: one of the massage chairs was won and donated by COO, Amber Yeong who rallied the most number of colleagues to become donors in a SingHealth and NHCS donation drive. 

A place for everyone

Every staff member is an important part of the NHCS family. As we expand our teams to better care for the ageing population, it is important that everyone has a place to work comfortably. To ensure this, several spaces in NHCS have transformed. For examples, the library was redesigned to include a resource centre and office, and existing spaces were renovated to welcome our Finance and Human Resources colleagues.

(L-R) The former library has been redesigned to house a resource centre and office space; A dedicated room within the new office space of Human Resources now facilitates the training needs of staff. 

3. Advancing Medicine Through Innovation and Research

Novel imaging facility

As a national and regional cardiovascular centre, NHCS continuously enhances its technology to bring the most advanced care to our patients. A notable and new addition is the novel Carbon-13 (C13) hyperpolariser, an emerging imaging technique that measures real-time metabolism to aid new studies in better understanding cardiometabolic diseases. 

Assoc Prof Calvin Chin, Senior Consultant and Director, Cardiac MRI said, “The C13 hyperpolarised MRI can provide unique information on tissue metabolism that current imaging modalities are unable to. We are excited to embark on studies using this safe yet powerful imaging technique to advance precision medicine in cardiac care.” 

Diagnostic and Research Laboratory

With 1.5 floors of research space, National Heart Research Institute Singapore (NHRIS) has been instrumental in driving many research studies and discoveries in NHCS. Edmund Pua, Research Fellow at NHRIS shared that due to the growing demand for clinical services, part of the research space was converted into a laboratory to perform additional services. The dedicated space, named Diagnostic and Research Laboratory, has recently received approvals to conduct clinical tests for patients. Keep a lookout for exciting news in this area!

4. Ensuring Safety and Accessibility

Connectivity between buildings

In 2021, with the opening of SingHealth Tower (SHT), a connecting tunnel between the carpark at SHT and NHCS was made available. This provided better vehicular access via basement carpark 2 (B2) and allowed staff to traverse between buildings safely during rainy weather via basement carpark 1 (B1). Along with this enhancement, the numbering of the basement carpark levels was harmonised with B1 renamed as BM, and so on, to ensure clear numbering across both buildings.

L-R: Staff can traverse between NHCS and SHT via B1; Harmonised numbering of carpark levels reflected in the lift.

Keeping the young ones safe

Since KKH Rehabilitation Centre opened at NHCS in 2021, invisible grilles have been installed in the corridor outside its premises at level 7 as an added precaution to keep young children safe. 

Heightened security
In 2022, seven K4-Rated rising arm barriers were installed at the vehicular entrances and exits of NHCS, and recently, another three more K4-Rated barriers were added near the zebra crossing going towards Outram Community Hospital. Funded by the Ministry of Health as part of the Security Enhancement project, these crash-resistant barriers significantly improve our protection against potential terrorist threats. Read more on how NHCS has consistently ensured excellence in safety and security measures.

That’s not all! The Patient Education Centre (2C Cardiac Clinic) at level two is currently undergoing renovation to cater to the expansion for Cardiovascular Systems Imaging and Artificial Intelligence (CVS.AI) laboratory and to better support NHCS, NHRIS and SingHealth research projects. Additionally, in the pipeline are the installation of solar panels and replacement of existing light bulbs with LED ones to enhance our sustainability efforts. 

What will NHCS be like in the next decade and beyond? Let us work together to shape the possibilities!