Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Check into a HOSPITEL

April 2, 2008

Hospital-cum-hotel complex coming up in Farrer Park by 2010

By Jessica Jaganathan

A GROUP of local doctors are building what they hope will be Singapore's first 'mediplex' - hospital, hotel and specialist medical centre rolled into one - above the Farrer Park MRT station.

With a focus on heart disease, cancer and general surgery, it will look to both medical tourists and the local market to fill its beds, said Dr Djeng Shih Kien, chairman of Singapore HealthPartners, the company behind the project.

Its twin 20-storey buildings will house 217 hospital beds, 210 medical suites and a four-star hotel with about 230 rooms - 40 per cent of which can be converted into hospital beds later if needed.

Another board member of the company, prominent local cardiologist Maurice Choo, said that the hotel-hospital combination will allow a heart-bypass patient to save up to 40 per cent of the costs by starting and ending the stay at the hotel, instead of spending all the time in the wards.

Two floors will also be taken up by a training centre for doctors, in a tie-up with the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School.

The company is also setting aside space in the hotel for a convention centre to host medical conferences and exhibitions.

The Farrer Park hospital and another being built by the Parkway group in the Novena area are the private sector's response to a government plan to treat one million foreign patients here a year by 2012.

Health economist Phua Kai Hong from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy said the new hospitals will help meet external demand from medical tourists and a possible spillover from public hospitals once means testing is in place.

Singapore HealthPartners - a partnership of local doctors, an architect and two foreign players - secured the 1.36ha Farrer Park site in October last year for $265 million.

It will spend another $400 million to build and equip the mediplex, which it hopes to open on Oct 10, 2010.

The foreign partners are Berjaya Leisure (Cayman), a subsidiary of Malaysia's Berjaya Group which has interests in gaming, stockbroking, properties, hotels and other businesses, and little-known Indonesian company Wharton Scott.

Together, they operate under the name Singapore HealthPartners, with local dentist Dr Djeng as chairman.

Dr Djeng, who set up the company last year, said the idea for a hospital was hatched three years ago and he had been on the lookout since for an appropriate site.

Word spread and soon a group of 40 local doctors, including heart and cancer specialists, surgeons and eye doctors in public and private practice, joined him.

'We felt that we should be masters of our own destiny,' said Dr Djeng.

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