As a public healthcare institution, safety of patients and staff is of topmost priority.
As a public healthcare institution, safety of patients and staff is of topmost priority. It comes as no surprise that we spare no effort to ensure, and continuously raise, the safety and security standards of NHCS. To do this, NHCS is a member of the Safety and Security Watch Group (SSWG) scheme, and works closely with the Singapore Police Force and Singapore Civil Defence Force to be better equipped with robust measures to fight crime, terrorism threats and crisis.
At the recent National SSWG Award Ceremony 2022, NHCS took home the SSWG Individual Award for the seventh consecutive year, a testament of the exceptional work by our Operations (Support Services), and Facilities Management colleagues, in upholding the safety and security of NHCS.
Jimmy Sum, Senior Manager, Operations (Support Services) receiving the award on behalf of NHCS
Expanded team with added roles
“When NHCS was previously housed at Mistri Wing, only two security officers (SOs) were deployed each day shift to conduct basic security checks and attend to security incidents. This has since been increased to seven SOs in the day and three SOs at night after shifting to our current premise in 2014,” shared Jimmy Sum, Senior Manager, Operations (Support Services). He added that a typical security patrol in Mistri Wing took an average of 30 minutes, a stark contrast to the two-hour long patrols taken by our SOs in the current 12-storey building. In addition, our SOs now have to handle carpark matters as well.
(L-R) Our team of security officers and maintenance staff have expanded to better meet the needs of the current larger premise so as to keep our patients and fellow colleagues safe.
Victor Ang, Assistant Director, Operations (Support Services) said, “Back at Mistri Wing, NHCS’ fire safety matters were overseen by the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) team. Moving to the current building meant that a new maintenance and fire safety committee – comprising fire wardens and company emergency rescue team – had to be formed independently. Equipping our own staff with fire safety knowledge is now crucial to the safety of our staff and patients.”
Our unsung heroes
At our current premise, a typical workday for our SOs involves 24/7 monitoring of our closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs) and numerous patrols within the building, around its perimeter, and the carparks. On their patrols, the SOs survey the staircases and hidden corners of each level in the building, looking out for suspicious items or persons while serving as a crucial deterrence against any ill-doing.
Some of the lesser seen but critical work that our security officers do to safeguard our security include, (L-R) looking behind closed doors for any suspicious items, and conducting verifications for non-staff before allowing them to enter NHCS.
Muhammad Zulfathi Bin Mohamed Amir, Executive, Operations (Support Services) shared, “We also conduct thorough verification for visitors, contractors and vendors before letting them enter the premise. With the pandemic, SOs also stepped up to enforce safe management measures such as mask-wearing, safe-distancing and so on.”
Meanwhile, our facilities management (FM) team works in two shifts during weekdays and Saturdays, with maintenance work carried out at patient care areas only after most of us end our day. “When the last few patients leave, the team gets to work, repairing equipment and facilities as well as conduct preventive maintenance of various mechanical and electrical (M&E) systems in the operating theatres and laboratories so that everything is up and running well the next day,” shared Stephen Tan, Assistant Manager, Operations (Support Services). He added that on top of these duties, our FM colleagues also respond promptly to service requests during regular working hours.
The work of our maintenance staff is often carried out after working hours to minimise disruption to patient care.
Though seemingly minute, their duties, which include cleaning air-conditioning coils and conducting regular checks on smoke detectors and electrical circuit breakers, are pivotal to the comfortable and safe environment that patients and staff enjoy.
Displaying resilience and adaptability despite challenges
Like many others, NHCS encountered countless disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Victor shared that the FM team had quickly arranged themselves into split teams to minimise cross infection however external factors remained a challenge - the worldwide manpower shortage and travel restrictions impacted factories’ ability to produce and deliver replacement parts to repair faulty M&E systems, and also delayed facility maintenance. For instance, when the escalator broke down and could not be repaired timely due to manpower issues, patients and staff had to take the lift or walk longer distances via the staircase.
The SingHealth cyberattack incident in 2018 was particularly memorable for the Security team. “The Emergency Command Centre was set up at NHCS level 7 to mail out letters to affected patients. To ensure the safety and security of the staff and operations, security stepped up and specially deployed a SO to oversee the premise.”
Continuous improvement is the way to go
NHCS’ consistent excellence in safety and security is by no means an easy feat but the result of continuous learning and innovation. Being part of SSWG has empowered NHCS in keeping up with best security practices, including utilising of technology to augment SOs’ work such as Argus, a smart support system equipping officers to respond efficiently to incidents, and more recently, the introduction of body-worn cameras to deter threatening behaviours against SOs and to aid in verification of complaints received.
(L-R) Security officers are now armed with body-worn cameras (circled in red) to facilitate their work; K4-Rated Rising Arm barriers at the vehicular entrances and exits of NHCS are crash-resistant and enhance our protection against potential terrorist threats.
Continuity of care for patients is key in healthcare hence to keep our facilities and equipment in tiptop condition, a Computerised Maintenance Management System (CMMS) was introduced to better manage the maintenance of M&E systems, in addition to enhancements made on operating software for early discovery and speedy restoration of faulty devices.
WE have a part to play
“There is no compromise when it comes to safety and security,” Victor emphasised.
Indeed, it takes two, if not, all hands to clap when it comes to safety and security. Just take a look around us and we would easily find features in place to protect staff and patients’ safety – card access systems for staff to enter various front and back-end areas, numerous fire-rated doors that may be tiresome to open but are lifesavers should a fire occur! As Zulfathi aptly puts it – WE can be the eyes and ears of NHCS - Should there be anything suspicious or faulty, we know who to count on!