Tan Tock Seng Hospital

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Tan Tock Seng Hospital
Hospital Tan Tock Seng  (Malay)
陈笃生医院 (Chinese)
தன் டாக் செங் மருத்துவமனையில்ல் (Tamil)
National Healthcare Group
TTSH Logo.gif
Tan Tock Seng Hospital 3, Aug 06.JPG
The new 15-story Tan Tock Seng Hospital was marked as a historic institution on 25 July 2001.
Location Novena, Singapore
Coordinates 1°19′17.8″N 103°50′45.4″E / 1.321611°N 103.845944°E / 1.321611; 103.845944Coordinates: 1°19′17.8″N 103°50′45.4″E / 1.321611°N 103.845944°E / 1.321611; 103.845944
Hospital type District General
Emergency department Yes Accident & Emergency
Founded 25 July 1844
Website http://www.ttsh.com.sg
Lists Hospitals in Singapore

The Tan Tock Seng Hospital (Abbreviation: TTSH) is the third-largest hospital in Singapore after the Institute of Mental Health (Singapore) and Singapore General Hospital, but its accident and emergency department is the busiest in the country largely due to its geographically centralised location.[1] Set up in 1844 by entrepreneur and philanthropist Tan Tock Seng, the hospital came under the international spotlight when it was designated as the sole treatment centre for the SARS epidemic which struck the country in 2003.


Singapore was a successful trading centre. Large numbers of immigrants came, hoping to make their fortune here. The majority of immigrants were poor and destitute. Malnutrition was common and it was estimated that about 100 immigrants died each year from starvation.

The British government set up a pauper's hospital in the 1820s but it closed in the 1830s because of insufficient funds. The government then suggested that the better-off members of each community take care of their own poor. Subsequently, some of the more benevolent members of the community responded. One such person was Tan Tock Seng, a successful businessman, philanthropist and the first Asian Justice of Peace. In 1843, Tan offered funds for the construction of a hospital.

The foundation stone of the Chinese Paupers' Hospital, Singapore's first privately funded hospital, was laid on 25 July 1844, on Pearl's Hill. Construction took three years and a shortage of funds saw the hospital stand empty for two more years. Finally, the first batch of patients was admitted in 1849. About 100 sick and destitute people had been housed in an attap shed at the foot of Pearl's Hill when a fierce storm destroyed the shed, leaving them homeless. Rather than have them wander the streets, the government decided to place them in the hospital. In the hospital's early years, money was a constant problem, alleviated from time to time by donations from kind benefactors. A shortage of staff and no reliable water supply also made things difficult.

Tan Tock Seng died in 1850 at the age of 52. Later on, the hospital's name was changed to Tan Tock Seng Hospital and, in 1861, it relocated to new premises on the corner of Serangoon Road and Balestier Road. A lepers' ward was also added. In 1903, the land on Moulmein Road, where the present hospital stands, was bought.

By the 1980s, the hospital's services and patient intake were beginning to outgrow the 1950s hospital building. A new 15-storey building was constructed and officially opened on 1 April 2000.

As a result of a restructuring exercise in the local health-care scene, the hospital became a member of the National Healthcare Group in 2000.

The hospital prides itself as a pioneer in the development of Geriatric Medicine, Infectious Diseases, Rehabilitation Medicine, Respiratory Medicine and Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology. It is also a major referral centre for Geriatric Medicine, General Surgery, Emergency Medicine, Diagnostic Radiology, Gastroenterology, Otorhinolaryngology and Orthopedic surgery.

In 2003, the hospital was declared the designated hospital for SARS screening and treatment by the Ministry of Health due to its past experience with communicable diseases (the Communicable Disease Centre was located nearby) and was "effectively locked down" to contain the outbreak.[2] At the lobby of the hospital, a memorial plaque was dedicated in memory of the hospital's doctors and healthcare workers, two of whom died of the disease, who worked tirelessly during the SARS epidemic and Minister of Health Gan Kim Yong paid tribute to the hospital's staff.[2][3][4]

Clinical and Allied Health Services[edit]

Division of Ambulatory & Diagnostic Medicine

  • Diagnostic Radiology
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Oncology Services
  • Pathology & Laboratory Medicine

Division of Medicine

Division of Surgery

Clinical Support Services

  • Complementary Integrative Medicine
  • Nutrition & Dietetics
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Pathology & Laboratory Medicine (Blood Transfusion, Haematology, Clinical chemistry, Anatomical pathology & Clinical microbiology)
  • Pharmacies (Outpatient, Inpatient & Retail)
  • Physiotherapy
  • Podiatry
  • Prosthetics & Orthotics
  • Psychological Services
  • Respiratory therapy
  • Speech Therapy
  • Travellers' Health & Vaccination Centre
  • Vascular Diagnostic Laboratory

TTSH Heritage Museum[edit]

The Tan Tock Seng Hospital Heritage Museum opened its doors on 25 July 2001. Honouring the legacy of its founder Mr Tan Tock Seng, the museum features a collection of Peranakan items from the mid-19th century, during Mr Tan's time.

Medical equipment and hospital artefacts of yore capture the enduring spirit of Singapore's first community hospital dedicated "to care for the sick poor of all nations". The hospital's development and achievements – in particular, its pioneering role in the treatment of tuberculosis (1940s) and its monumental leadership in the fight against SARS – are presented through narrative displays, salvaged historical objects and a time capsule.

The TTSH Heritage Museum is a member of the National Heritage Board's Museum Roundtable.

The Art of Healing Programme[edit]

Tan Tock Seng Hospital's The Art of Healing programme, an initiative that aims to use the arts as a form of therapy to soothe patients' mind and body and help them on their path to recovery, was launched on 6 February 2006. Through the arts, the hospital is transformed to a warm, welcoming and enriching environment for patients, families, staff and visitors, and helps to distract patients from their ailments, express their feelings and reduce anxiety. By this, the hospital hopes that there will be an improvement in patients' blood pressure and intake of pain medication, which in turn should lead to faster recovery and a shorter length of hospital stay.

The programme is an ongoing project where activities such as exhibitions (paintings, pottery, wire sculptures, etc.) and performances (orchestras, big bands, string quartets, plays, dances, etc.) are unveiled regularly. This helps to promote the hospital as a centre of holistic healing of mind and body, and transforms the hospital environment from a traditionally sterile, cold and fearful one to a warm, non-threatening and welcoming place of healing. The programme provides an enriching multi-cultural experience for patients and staff and welcomes artists of all art forms to be a part of these performances.

Under the arm of "The Art of Healing" programme, the hospital's Healing Sky Garden and Orchid Botanica were launched in 2006 and 2007, respectively.


  • National Heritage Board (2002), Singapore's 100 Historic Places, Archipelago Press, ISBN 981-4068-23-3

External links[edit]