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SHAPING OF A VISION THOMSON MEDICAL CENTRE


SHAPING OF A VISION THOMSON MEDICAL CENTRE

1979-2009


Writer Keith G Emuang

Design and Production razorSHARK Design

Published by Thomson Medical Centre Ltd 339 Thomson Road Singapore 307677 Tel: 6250 2222 Fax: 6253 4468 Website: www.ThomsonMedical.com.sg

SHAPING OF A VISION CELEBRATING 30 YEARS – THOMSON MEDICAL CENTRE ISBN: 978-981-08-3841-6 © 2009 Thomson Medical Centre Ltd No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the written permission of the publisher.


�ontent�

Foreword By Minister For Health, Singapore

CHAPTER 1

Sown to Deliver

6

Rising From Tragedy A Path To Healing Values Into Practice Onto The Big Stage

11 13 16 19

CHAPTER 2

Taking Flight

Distinct From The Rest Teething Tests The Golden Years

CHAPTER 3

Grit & Glory

Man On A Mission The Thomson Spirit Second Wind A New Dawn Tributes And Wishes

CHAPTER 4

Proof of the Pudding

Thomson Fertility Centre Thomson Pre-Natal Diagnostic Laboratory Thomson Fetal Assessment Unit Thomson Women’s Clinics Thomson Lifestyle Centre Thomson Aesthetics Centre Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Thomson ParentCraft Centre 24-Hour Family Clinic First Born / Subsequent Born Incentive Programmes Thomson Junior Angels Club International Patient Centre Specialist Tenant Clinics Marks Of Success Thomson Women Cancer Centre Thomson International Health Services Acknowledgement

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22

26 29 34 40

45 50 53 60 64 66

73 74 75 76 77 80 81 83 84 84 84 85 86 90 95 96 99


4 SHAPING OF A VISION

Celebrating 30 Years Thomson Medical Centre

Foreword by Minister for Health Singapore

A

year after I started working in the Ministry of Health, Dr W C Cheng founded the Thomson Medical Centre (TMC). I remember reading about his rationale for forming the TMC: to provide expectant mothers with a memorable experience. After all, birth is a happy event and the experience in the “labour ward” should be a pleasant one. Several years later, when I was given the task to set up and run the National University Hospital (NUH), I adopted many of Dr Cheng’s ideas in our obstetrics department. For instance, NUH was the first public hospital to drop the term “labour ward” in favour of “delivery suite”. We also welcomed husbands into the delivery suite to be with their wives, to jointly experience the wonders of birth. Thirty years ago, more women delivered in public hospitals than in private hospitals. The clinical standard has always been high, in both the public and the private sectors. As a result, Singapore’s infant mortality rate is among the lowest in the world. Anticipating rising economic growth and wages, Dr Cheng foresaw an increasing demand for private obstetrics services by couples who could afford and were willing to pay for more personalised care. After Medisave was launched and extended to private hospitals, the trend intensified and even more women shifted to private obstetric services. Being young and healthy, they have healthy Medisave balances. With increased competition among obstetrics service providers, fees are also competitive. Armed with Medisave, many can afford private care.


Foreword

Today, the situation has reversed and more babies are born in private hospitals. Meanwhile, TMC has established itself as a top private hospital for women, with a healthy market share. This shift has eased the workload in public hospitals and enabled public obstetrics & gynaecology departments to focus more on gynaecology and specialised obstetrics services such as infertility treatment and research. This is a good division of labour and my Ministry welcomes such a development. At 30, TMC is exploring new frontiers. First, TMC is going into the prevention and treatment of cancer in women, through its Thomson Women Cancer Centre. Second, it is expanding overseas and will, for a start, be managing the Hanh Phuc Hospital in Vietnam. I welcome such moves by the private sector to move up the value chain and enlarge their regional presence. By innovating healthcare delivery, ensuring quality and keeping costs affordable, TMC has helped to enhance the competitive landscape in Singapore, raised our overall standards of medical care, and improved patient choice. My heartiest congratulations and my best wishes for TMC in the years ahead.

KHAW BOON WAN MAY 2009

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CHAPTER 1

�own t�

�e�ive�


8 SHAPING OF A VISION

Celebrating 30 Years Thomson Medical Centre

c�ronic�e� The

of Thomson Medical Centre

...tell of true grit, despair and joy sprinkled with moments of thrilling triumphs and testing trials. It is also a tale of one man’s dream brought to life. Dr Cheng Wei Chen had inexorably displayed innovation before his time to conceptualise such a bold plan. Obviously, the luminous status the hospital enjoys today indicates it was a plan that worked. But even before the actualisation of his vision, the seeds had been sown albeit in stages, both consciously and subconsciously. They were to germinate along a compelling life journey that began seventy eight years ago, some 2,000 miles away from Thomson Road. South of the Yangtze River and in the Jiangxi Province of China, Lushan is a beautiful land of misty mountains, languid lakes, fabulous fauna and wondrous waterfalls. With the backdrop of sheer peaks and precipices of the mesmerising Lushan Mountain, Wei Chen was born.


“My

Chapter 1 Sown to Deliver

9

gran�mot�e� was one of the first doctors trained by American missionaries when they came to Fuchow. As a young widow, she received a certificate in 1908 for successfully completing her training as a mid-wife and gynaecologist. She really saved me as I was born two months premature and weighed under a kilogram. After she retired and as I grew up, I learnt about her work as a doctor. I used to play with her old instruments and leftover medicines. She left a very deep impression on me. Another thing I learnt from her and still believe today is that the grandmother is the best mother substitute for young parents who are working. I feel it’s a custom we should continue to nurture.”

Dr Cheng Wei Chen on his grandmother Wong Nga Eng, and her influence on him.

The third of seven siblings, he came into the world dangerously premature in 1931. Unable to suckle from his mother’s breasts, only the ingenuity of his grandmother Wong Nga Eng, had saved him from certain death. She fed him milk using eye-drop containers and nursed him back to health. With both parents working and already having to tend to two older children, Nga Eng decided to ease their burden and took her frail grandson under her exclusive care. Years earlier, Wei Chen’s father, Cheng Hwa Hsiong, and mother, Chen Lee Ing, both teachers, had arrived in Lushan from Hokkien Province (Fuchow) hoping to give their children a better life. They ran a small provision shop to supplement their income, and the family was relatively comfortable. That however, drastically changed in 1937 when fleeting Sino-Japanese skirmishes suddenly progressed into a full scale war.

Wei Chen with his grandmother, Wong Nga Eng and younger sister.


10 SHAPING OF A VISION

Celebrating 30 Years Thomson Medical Centre

“I had just started my third year of school when my parents decided we had to flee because the Japanese were moving rapidly across China. The initial plan was to head west to Chongqing in the Sichuan area which was, my father thought, out of Japanese reach. But after a long and tiring journey lasting several months, he realised that we were not going to make it. The roads and rivers were congested with hundreds of thousands of refugees.” Fortunately for them, Homer Cheng, a close relative who was working in Singapore at the time, learnt of their plight and advised the family to head to Singapore. Hwa Hsiong took heed and decided to break his family up into two groups for easier passage. Ten-year old Wei Chen, his sister and grandmother were in one group, while his parents and remaining siblings made up the other. Wei Chen (centre) with his mother, Chen Lee Ing and his siblings in China.

The family reunion in Singapore was understandably a joyous occasion. After all, there had not been much to cheer since they left their home in Lushan. The relief on Wei Chen’s parents’ faces then said it all. A new life beckoned. Unfortunately, historical events had other ideas; to cruelly intervene and expunge the elation.

THE SINGAPORE CONNECTION Prior to their migration to Singapore, Wei Chen’s grand-uncle, Homer Cheng, was working for the British Colonial Government as Chinese Chargés d’affaires. He had arrived on the island from China in 1936, at a time when the British were struggling to handle the huge population of immigrant Chinese, many of whom were coolies. Homer, then handling the administration for the import of coolies, was assigned the task of documenting, organising and looking after their affairs. The British subsequently created the Chinese Affairs Department, which Homer headed. Besides advising them to flee to Singapore, Homer helped Wei Chen’s family with immigration and accommodation once they arrived.


Chapter 1 Sown to Deliver

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T

RISING FROM TRAGEDY

he family arrived in Singapore in late 1941. By midFebruary 1942, even before they could learn the words to God Save the Queen, a new anthem had to be mastered – Kimi ga Yo. The British Gibraltar of the East had been overrun by the Imperial Japanese Army and took on a new moniker – Light of the South Island (Syonan-to). The very same antagonists Wei Chen’s family had fled from in China caught up with them. Few if any, escaped the brutality of the Japanese Occupation of Singapore and neither did this young family of first generation immigrants, one that would never be the same again. “When the Japanese soldiers started screening us, they told us it was to check the various skills people possessed so that they could allocate jobs accordingly and the amount of rations to be distributed. If we had known the truth, we would have run away or hidden.” For two days, with biscuits as their only sustenance, Wei Chen and his family waited to be cleared with thousands of others. It was the new rulers’ way of rounding up the civilian population to rid it of what they considered undesirables elements. Sometime during the tedious process, Hwa Hsiong was whisked away by two Japanese officers and led into a separate queue. “We didn’t think anything of it at the time as we were rushed through. But afterwards, we figured that they had suspected him to be an anti-Japanese sympathiser. We never saw him again.” During the course of the three-and-a-half-year occupation, another tragedy was to strike. Wei Chen’s youngest brother developed a serious bout of dysentery.

Wei Chen (second from left, with vest) with his parents, grandmother and his siblings.


12 SHAPING OF A VISION

SCREENING FOR ANTI-JAPANESE Within days of the Japanese Occupation on 15th February 1942, men between the ages of 18 and 50 were rounded up and screened at special anti-Japanese cleansing centres set up around the island. The imperial authorities wanted to filter anti-Japanese elements from the civilian population. They sought vengeance against mostly the local Chinese whom they suspected had either sent money to China in support of the war effort against Japan or were involved in anti-Japanese guerrilla operations prior to the British surrender. Anyone who failed the screening would immediately be loaded onto trucks and taken to remote sites such as Bedok, Pulau Blakang Mati (now Sentosa), Changi and Punggol to be executed. Victims were bayoneted, tied and thrown overboard from barges out at sea, or machine-gunned on beaches. This was to constitute the gruesome Sook Ching Massacre where an estimated 50,000 lives were lost.

Celebrating 30 Years Thomson Medical Centre

“We saw a GP who gave him castor oil. He started purging and didn’t stop until he was dehydrated. My mother then brought him to the old Middleton Hospital where the Communicable Diseases Centre is today. She left him there and returned the next day only to be told that he had died and was taken away to be buried,” recounts Wei Chen. He quickly adds, “That was the way during the war. It was a harsh time with no proper government in charge.” Although Lee Ing took on two jobs to support her family, it was not enough. So Wei Chen’s elder brother and sister headed out to work; the former as a taxi driver while the latter waitressed in a restaurant. A while later, Wei Chen himself started work at a Japanese army vehicle depot along Bukit Timah Road on a plot of land where the office of the Land Transport Authority sits today. His responsibilities included that of tea- and office-boy, toilet cleaner, sweeper and food-server, among others.

“They were very strict. If you do something wrong, you’ll get beaten up. It was also hard for me to work for them after what they did to my father but I felt feeding my family was more important. Besides earning fifteen dollars and 15 katis of rice a month, I got three meals a day and all the leftovers from the army canteen to take home to my family.” “This part of my life during the war left me with a deep impression. It taught me to fend for myself and handle adversity.”


Chapter 1 Sown to Deliver

13

A PATH TO HEALING

W

hen the war finally ended, Wei Chen’s elder brother continued to work to support his mother who had returned to teach in a regular school. As such, he was able to continue his education and was subsequently enrolled in Chung Cheng High School, a Chinese-medium secondary school. However, that lasted for only six months. “My mother pulled me out against my wishes,” recalls Wei Chen, who concedes that her foresight in enrolling him into Anglo Chinese School (ACS) was a good move. “I began to open up and develop a more balanced and broader view of people and history. Although, my English was poor at that time, I took it as another challenge to overcome. That was another important turning point in my life.” Undeterred, Wei Chen, who barely scrapped through his first year at ACS, buried himself in his schoolwork with the explicit goal to overcome the English Language hurdle. He used to spend his free time at bookstores along Bras Basah Road and the English-Chinese dictionary he bought, became a constant companion. “I figured that if I could remember 20 percent of what I read, I would be alright.” It turned out to be more than alright as Wei Chen went on to become the Number 2 student in ACS. By then, his grandmother’s influence was in full gear and studying medicine became his only goal.

A portrait of Dr Cheng in 1956.


Dr Cheng (second row, first from right) in his university graduation photo of the University of Malaya.

AN INDIRECT PATH Dr Cheng Wei Chen initially studied dentistry at the University of Malaya in Singapore. Although he enjoyed it, he did not feel that he possessed the skilled hands to work within the small confines of the mouth. So he applied for a transfer to do medicine but was rejected. Unperturbed, he enrolled into Hong Kong University in 1955 to read medicine. Through sheer grit, he emerged as the institution’s top student but pressure on his mother’s finances meant that he soon reapplied to do medicine in Singapore. This time, they could not turn him away and even gave him a bursary to pay for his expenses.


Chapter 1 Sown to Deliver

In 1958, Wei Chen graduated from medical school with a Gold Medal in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. He spent the next 10 years in Kandang Kerbau Maternity Hospital (KKH) and Singapore General Hospital, a period he labels the ‘blood and thunder years’. “That was the era of the post-war baby boom and KKH used to deliver as many as 100 babies a day. The delivery ward was big and there could be as many as 20 women at any time screaming their lungs out. If you were passing by the hospital in those days, you could hear their cries of ‘Tolong! Tolong!’ (‘help’ in Malay).” Wei Chen laments, “There was a shortage of doctors so we were putting in 48-hour shifts. We encountered any and every condition you could find in the medical textbook. So as inexperienced doctors, we often carried a book with us for reference. The senior doctors rarely had time for us. My record at that time was delivering 10 babies a day!” Though he acknowledges those were ‘incredibly tough’ times, Wei Chen is also thankful about how those numerous on-the-job lessons and experiences would later shape a philosophy he would carry with him for the rest of his life.

“� wasn’t really scared with my first delivery

but what affected me was the strong smell that comes with the bursting of the water-bag. I felt nauseous and could not eat for a few days. However, after that, I got used to it. I finished my quota of deliveries very quickly and went on to do more. I wanted to learn as much as I could and even spent lots of time learning from the nurses. Our seniors rarely had time for us.” Dr Cheng Wei Chen on delivering his first baby.

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Celebrating 30 Years Thomson Medical Centre

O

VALUES INTO PRACTICE ne of the things that constantly bothered Wei Chen during his ten-year tenure in public hospitals was how women did not seem to enjoy childbirth. “They just come in and scream. Rarely, if ever, was there any staff offering words of comfort. I told myself that this cannot be right. It should be a joyous occasion.” These women also appeared ignorant and frightened of childbirth. The absence of ante-natal care meant they were not empowered to maintain a healthy pregnancy. They knew nothing about preventing maternal deaths and neither were they monitored for any complications.

“Six years in the

same medical school and we never knew each other existed. That was how busy we were. Only when paired during our internship did I realise: Hey, this is a nice girl. She was so conscientious and would always do all my work for me. I don’t know if she was trying to attract my attention or not. Well, that’s boys for you, always so gong gong! (‘ignorant’ in colloquial dialect).” Dr Cheng Wei Chen on how he met his wife, Dr Lee Siew Chin.


Chapter 1 Sown to Deliver

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“Another thing I observed was that in the hospital, because of the huge workload and the system, I never had the time to develop the close doctor-patient relationship I wanted in terms of showing empathy, kindness, and just talking to the patient,” he rues. So in wanting to provide women what they wanted and deserved, Wei Chen decided to leave government service and set up his own practice in 1968. His first clinic was located on the second floor of the old Cold Storage (now Centrepoint) in Orchard Road. “It was a small space. I delivered most of my patients at Mount Alvernia and Gleneagles hospitals, and sometimes when they didn’t have any beds, I would go to Youngberg Adventist Hospital in Upper Serangoon Road. So you can imagine the mad rushing around I had to do.” Nonetheless, Wei Chen was happy that his patients were getting the level of service and care they would not have easily enjoyed elsewhere. However, a friend’s death in Sydney had left him something to ponder over.

“Doing duty and eating

together became our social lives. We hardly had time to go out. The turning point in our relationship came during the 1959 elections. It wasn’t a terribly busy night so we talked as we watched the election reports come in. Nothing more exciting and romantic than that!” Wei Chen married Siew Chin in 1960. The couple lived with Wei Chen’s mother in her house on Hua Guan Avenue (off Dunearn Road) before their two sons came along.

“Like me, he was an obstetrician. Like me, he had his clinic away from the hospital. Like me, he was used to rushing around. One day, while rushing to attend to an emergency, another car smashed into his just as he was turning into the hospital. He died instantly,” Wei Chen recollects. Not wanting the same fate to befall him, Wei Chen decided to shift his practice closer to Mount Alvernia Hospital since the Thomson Road hospital served the majority of his patients. The most obvious site was his wife’s family bungalow which was built on the same plot of land that the first Novena Church used to occupy before World War II. “After my father-in-law passed away, only my mother-in-law lived there but there was so much unused space. So I took over about 2,000 square feet and began to do it up.”

Wei Chen and Siew Chin waltzing to the music.


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Celebrating 30 Years Thomson Medical Centre

Wei Chen took pains to furnish his clinic with the best fittings he could get his hands on. He chose them personally: artwork, background music, carpets, curtains, magazines, soft lights and even a glorious chandelier which he hung over the waiting area. He wanted to put his patients at ease and move as far away from the common clinic concept of minimalist interiors – the norm those days. To top it off, he made space for a little café as well. He abhors, “How to feel relaxed in a clinic those days? It’s all so grim and you feel like you’re at a ‘sinseh’ (Chinese medicine shop).” There was also ample parking space and his patients would often express relief that they could avoid the gradually-increasing Orchard Road traffic. For the next eight years, things went perfectly until Mount Alvernia announced a change of policy; limiting the number of beds private doctors could book in advance. This came into effect from the start of 1978.

Site where Thomson Medical Centre stands today.


Chapter 1 Sown to Deliver

L

ONTO THE BIG STAGE essons from the war had taught Wei Chen to respond rather than regret when faced with obstacles. So naturally, his first instinct was to find a way to ensure his patients had beds and not be at the mercy of hospitals. Besides, he was not thrilled about having to rush around again. “These circumstances pushed me to think of a plan. I knew very quickly that I had to build a hospital for my own patients,” he remarks. The land where the bungalow sat seemed like the logical site to build a hospital but Wei Chen envisaged that he needed more space. He had already, for several years, been trying to acquire the neighbouring parcel of land which housed the Yamaha Music School but the owner had been reluctant to sell. However, as circumstances changed for the owner, he eventually relinquished ownership of the land, at a considerably lower price. Although Wei Chen already had in mind the kind of hospital he wanted to build, the ultimate test laid ahead – moulding his vision with bricks and mortar. With help from his architect brother, a blueprint for the hospital was drawn up and submitted for approval. “In the interim, I brought my newly appointed hospital policymakers on several fact-finding-cum-research trips to a few women’s and children’s hospitals in the US. We consulted the project architect there and brought our ideas back.” There were also issues of added funding to secure. Though Wei Chen managed to cope, he knew that the backing of another major shareholder could prove vital for the hospital’s long-term operations. Fortuitously, he met one man who shared his vision and who was incidentally, also on the lookout for a sound investment in the healthcare industry.

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20 SHAPING OF A VISION

Celebrating 30 Years Thomson Medical Centre

“I’d always wanted to get

into the healthcare business but honestly, because of the antiseptic smell of the hospital, I was reluctant. However, when Wei Chen told me about plans to make his hospital like a hotel, I was sold immediately.” “I being a businessman and him a doctor, there were always different views so we agreed that if we combined them, we could make it beneficial to everyone. Besides, he was a dedicated, humble and sincere man and I trusted him. So in bad times or in good, I will support him without worrying about profits. That’s what friends do.” Dr Hari Harilela is Chairman of the Hong Kong-based Harilela Group which runs, among other business interests, hotels in Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Penang, Bangkok and Sydney. Dr Harilela was appointed Director of TMC in 1978.

“I met Dr Hari Harilela through a mutual friend. He spoke of his interest in a hospital-type operation and was immediately drawn to what I had to say. He was already a successful businessman running hotels so I felt he would provide the right business component to my plans.” “We clicked immediately because we shared similar philosophies and he being in the hotel industry, was excited by a hospital which boasts of hotel-like facilities. The rest is history. He was my first shareholder. I’m glad to say that today we are good friends apart from business partners.” Trust between the two men developed over the years and they stuck with each other in good and bad times. When help was required in whatever form, Dr Harilela never shirked. “Sometimes, the hospital needed more money and support. So being a major shareholder, I supported him. I knew him as an honest, sincere man who was more interested in delivering healthy babies than making a profit. It was easy to be loyal to such a man. He had my total support.” In recent times, Dr Harilela plays a more low-key role in hospital affairs and leaves the management to Wei Chen and his team. Dr Harilela’s philosophy today of ‘Whatever he decides, I will go with it’ sums up the extreme confidence he has in Wei Chen.

Dr & Mrs Harilela visiting the wards.


Chapter 1 Sown to Deliver

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So once the green light for construction was given, Wei Chen managed to secure the service of a reliable builder, one who could meet his ‘special’ demands. Essentially, the building had to be up and ready in express time. With Wei Chen still operating his practice from a small plot on the site, he was needless to say, in close watch throughout the excavation, foundation and construction phases. There is no doubting what unfolded over the next nine months was a laudable feat back in 1978. Once the last nut and bolt had been screwed into the impressive six-storey building, one thing was clear; the landscape of that section of Thomson Road overlooking the Balestier Road junction was to be forever transformed.

“I told the builder I needed to have the building up in nine months. Why that amount of time? I suppose it was symbolic to me since a woman took that length of time to give birth to a new life.” “I wanted to have a distinctive mark on the building which people could identify with it. So I asked for Spanish arches on the top of the building. It was an aesthetic touch no doubt but it also gave me the chance to retain the arches on our family bungalow.” Dr Cheng Wei Chen on the construction and design of his new hospital.


CHAPTER 2

�ligh�

�akin�


24 SHAPING OF A VISION

Celebrating 30 Years Thomson Medical Centre

�a� 28, The day was Monday,

1979

...Reunited by Peaches & Herb was Number 1 on the Billboard Charts, The Incredible Hulk soared up TV ratings while Andy Gibb and Farrah Fawcett enjoyed omnipresence in many an adolescent dream.


The irrepressible disco phenomenon was also finally showing signs of losing its boogie. But the end of that era, as widespread as it was, would mark the start of another in tiny Singapore. It was nothing earth-shattering but on that day, one man was to deliver on his vision. Without much fanfare, Thomson Medical Centre (TMC) became operational as the only private niche hospital for women and children in Singapore specialising in obstetrics, gynaecology and paediatrics. Even after the hospital opened, the odd scaffolding remained but as they gradually came down, the building took shape; neat and functional, nothing too flashy with only its distinctive roof arches for effect. Nonetheless, as the media and public began to catch whiff of the uniqueness encased within its spanking new walls, TMC began to attract a steady stream of patients through its doors.


26 SHAPING OF A VISION

Celebrating 30 Years Thomson Medical Centre

A

DISTINCT FROM THE REST major qualm Wei Chen harboured was that hospitals being what they were with numerous sick people at every turn submerged in a dour and clinical environment, did not seem to support an ideal ambience for celebration. The best approach he felt, and a radical one at the time, was to extract and entrench the joy of childbirth within a dedicated facility, which was now possible in TMC. The aim was to create a setting which would undo the shackles of tension and fear. In a hospital context, the typical sights, sounds and smells had to go. So TMC took on the task to present itself differently; to evoke a sense of friendliness and comfort not unlike what you would expect when you walked into any trendy hotel along Orchard Road then.

“The conventional hospital has got too much white, too much fear and too much pain. So I conceived the idea to design a hospital completely different in ambience; basically to transplant the hotel-type ambience, home-type of bedroom as patient rooms, with the hospital facilities hidden away, and with emphasis on personalised, very intimate, very warm, very friendly type of nursing care.” Dr Cheng Wei Chen sharing his thoughts on creating a unique hospital environment.

The lobby of the new TMC had a distinctive plush hotel feel about it while the wards were painted in cheery hues interspaced with distinctive flower prints. Sofas lined the air-conditioned waiting areas as soft piped music filled the air. Then there were the hippy nurses’ stations with their uncanny semblance to retro bar-counters. For added touches, a gift shop, cafe, florist and hair salon took up tenancy. It may be a far cry from what we see today but in those unadorned times, this was as rare as expressways in Singapore. And it did not stop there.


Chapter 2 Taking Flight

“�e were the first ones to introduce room service.

27

Though it was a hotel concept we were aiming for, we thought that patients, unlike patrons in a hotel, would spend most of their time in the room in bed. A woman thinks a lot about food when she’s getting well – especially a maternity patient; she’s hungry all the time!” Dr Cheng Wei Chen on the service and hotel-quality food offered at TMC.


28 SHAPING OF A VISION

Celebrating 30 Years Thomson Medical Centre

Uplifting and trendy uniforms breaking the norms over the years.

Soon after TMC began operation, the nurses’ uniforms joined the bandwagon of radical change. Wei Chen wanted to dispense with what he labelled the ‘white syndrome’ – when a person’s blood pressure rose or children burst into tears the moment they see white. Thus traditional whites were replaced by floral prints which had nurses uplifted, patients delighted, and some in the medical fraternity gobsmacked.


Chapter 2 Taking Flight

29

I

TEETHING TESTS nevitably, Wei Chen’s formula to make delivery an enjoyable experience for women required two variables. The first, a friendly and cosy ambience was a matter of concept and design. The other involved finding the people with the dedication and drive who could provide the desired professionalism and personalised touches he sought. This was to prove more challenging.

“The physical part of drawing up a building plan and having the hospital constructed was not difficult, but back then when there were so few doctors, the challenge was how to get the right group of senior doctors who share the same vision as me.” Dr Cheng Wei Chen on finding the right people to join TMC.

Dr Tan Wee Khin started working with Wei Chen in 1976 when she joined his practice, W C Cheng & Associates. When TMC began operations in 1979, according to her, joining TMC was a ‘foregone conclusion’. Wee Khin opines, “To me, W C Cheng was a visionary in the field of medical entrepreneurship. The idea of providing a warm hospital environment and safe and good medical care for women and children appealed to me.”


30 SHAPING OF A VISION

“When I first admitted four cases into the labour ward

for a trial run, the brand new delivery lamps were not functioning. This happened on a Sunday. What ensued was a frantic search for portable lamps from the rest of the hospital. Eventually, two sets were rushed in from somebody’s home! The real challenge at the time was coping with the initial inconveniences.” Dr Tan Wee Khin, on the initial challenges the hospital faced.

Celebrating 30 Years Thomson Medical Centre

Having the calm and confident doctor on his team was reassuring but Wei Chen knew that in order to offer the services he envisaged, more definitely had to be done to shore up TMC’s personnel. Fortunately, the entrepreneurial doctor also seemed to have a gift at spotting talent, whether doctors, nurses, radiographers or other operational staff. In some instances, his search had begun way before any ground for TMC’s construction had been broken. Dr Ang Poon Liat was one of the pioneer doctors of TMC. He had lectured at the National University of Singapore before coming out into private practice. He narrates, “We developed a working association not long after I started my private paediatric clinic at Specialist Centre. I knew one of his colleagues when he was practicing opposite in the old Cold Storage. Being a paediatrician, I thought it would be good to approach him and ask for newborn referrals. Those days we had to chase for business.”

“I didn’t know him personally but everyone had heard of Dr W C Cheng then. He was not your conventional doctor – though a good clinician and surgeon, he also possessed good business sense. He had a debonair and exuberant personality – a charmer really. And who could forget his stylish attire and the cool sports car he used to zip around in.” As construction work for TMC begun, Poon Liat and Wei Chen met several times, mostly at the latter’s residence off Dunearn Road. When Wei Chen revealed his plans, Poon Liat recalls feeling a ‘distinct connection’. He explains, “Something about his vision and plans struck a chord with me. We had a mutual understanding and we both seemed to have a builders’ mentality. I had a good impression of him and felt comfortable with him. Of course I was also a garang (gutsy) 27-year old then so I told him I didn’t mind coming on board.”


Chapter 2 Taking Flight

“When I first moved in, work was still underway. Scaffoldings hid the front of the hospital and I remember the stairways were not yet paved. Rubble was everywhere. I had to get third-party insurance in case my patients fell and sued me! But things gradually began to look up. Practice-wise, there was only my paediatric clinic and the Dr Cheng’s O&G clinic. There was only one labour ward in operation then. It was a steep learning curve with no one to turn to for help but because we had a focus and drive, and were led by Dr Cheng’s enterprise, we coped well.” Dr Ang Poon Liat who has been running the Paediatric Centre at TMC since 1979, on the initial challenges faced.

Matron Ho Soo Sum first met Wei Chen in the mid-1960s when she was undergoing her mid-wifery training and had been posted to his unit at Kandang Kerbau Hospital. After he had come out to private practice in 1968, their paths crossed on many occasions. Soo Sum had moved to a delivery ward at Mount Alvernia Hospital where Wei Chen was sending his patients. Inevitably, the two met and got to know each other, even working together on several occasions. Aware of her experience in caring for maternity patients, he offered her a position in TMC, which after some deliberation, she accepted. Soo Sum subsequently joined TMC as a nursing manager.

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“What attracted me to TMC was that there was a focus in maternity care. I enjoyed the feeling of seeing happy parents celebrate the arrival of their new baby as opposed to a general-type hospital where scenes of sickness are common. I was excited by the prospect. Besides, I knew how he worked and vice versa, so that helped with my decision too.” Difficult as it was to find good people, on several occasions, some actually came knocking on its door. One of them was Tan Suan Thoo. Trained in ultrasound in the United Kingdom before coming back to work in a government hospital, Suan Thoo had seen a banner slung across the front of TMC one day as she was passing by.

“Dr Cheng did say it would be chaotic and he was right! However, he was confident that I could settle things down and that spurred me on. Being a new hospital, nurses were handpicked from other hospitals so they were trained under a different culture. The challenge initially was to streamline the delivery of care along TMC’s philosophy.” Matron Ho Soo Sum, now Director of Nursing, on the nursing situation in the early days.

“At the time, I was working but not fully utilising what I studied and thought I’d write in to TMC. Being an O&G hospital, I figured they would have to do lots of ultrasound scanning so I saw that as an opportunity.” Suan Thoo relates, “I met Dr Cheng for the first time and after a few interviews, I found him to be a very warm and dynamic man. He told me they needed a radiographer and asked if I would like to come in and set up the X-ray and ultrasound department from scratch. It was a mammoth responsibility but at the same time, an opportunity that was just too hard to resist.” Wei Chen took a hands-on approach on staffing TMC which was not limited to the professional positions. He looked across the complete functioning of the hospital.

Decades prior to the construction of TMC, when Wei Chen’s father-in-law’s bungalow was still standing in its full glory, the father of Vaiyappuray Balakrishnan’s (Bala for short) worked as a gardener there. When Wei Chen moved his practice to occupy one section of the bungalow, the two men eventually met and became friends.


Chapter 2 Taking Flight

“It’s no exaggeration when I say it was a one-woman show. Things were very basic and developing films was really a tedious process then. I was also tasked with recruiting but at the time, it was not easy to find people with the proper training and qualifications.” Tan Suan Thoo joined TMC as a radiographer in 1979 and rose to become Chief Radiographer and Sonographer. She now does more clinical work at the hospital.

Bala, who was born and grew up in the gardener’s quarters beside the bungalow, emotes, “Their whole family was so caring and humble. Dr Cheng never had any airs about him and always treated us like his extended family.” When TMC opened, Bala, who was then working in a shipyard as a plumber, was offered a job as an ambulance driver and maintenance man. He did not hesitate. After all Bala felt honoured to work for a man he had always held in high regard and someone who had always shown trust and respect to his family. Wei Chen’s faith in Bala has since been rewarded with the latter’s unwavering loyalty. ‘This will be my last job ever. I intend to retire here,” Bala declares.

“In the early days of TMC, we were thinly staffed. Dr Cheng knew I was used to working in a group at my previous company but still he showed confidence in me that I could handle things single-handedly. His trust in me and friendship has created a wonderful work environment for me. That’s probably why I’ve stayed on for so long at TMC. Money isn’t everything.” Bala, on the job satisfaction he enjoys at TMC which has kept him there for 30 years.

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O

THE GOLDEN YEARS nce teething problems had been overcome and operational processes streamlined, there was no stopping TMC from moving forward. Not surprisingly, patient loads began to soar. Never one to rest on laurels, Wei Chen wanted to push on to offer new services. One of the first he introduced and heavily influenced by his experience in KKH was ante-natal classes. A novel concept in the local medical industry then, he wanted to help mothers-to-be and their spouses, prepare for labour, birth and early parenthood. This was, many years later, to evolve into the establishment of the Thomson ParentCraft Centre.

SINGAPORE’S FIRST

IVF TRIPLETS On September 12, 1988, TMC was born! Well, more precisely, Thomas, Melina and Celina were born. The triplets, delivered to Mr and Mrs Rudy Tanama from Medan, Indonesia, were Singapore’s first IVF triplets conceived at the hospital’s IVF clinic. With her fallopian tubes damaged following two previous ectopic pregnancies, Mrs Tanama’s only remaining option to conceive was through IVF. So at the IVF clinic in TMC, her eggs were carefully extracted and fertilised outside her body before the embryos were transferred back into her womb. Dr Cheng Wei Chen delivered all three babies by caesarean section. Mrs Tanama and her husband were among the first to sign up for the IVF programme.

The Straits Times , 15 Sep 1988

Grown-up triplets Celina, Thomas and Melina now living in Indonesia.


Chapter 2 Taking Flight

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Thomson celebrating the quadruplet's first birthday. 2004 mes, 30 May The Straits Ti

SINGAPORE’S FIRST SURVIVING

IVF QUADRUPLETS On May 14, 1989, the Tan quadruplets became Singapore’s and Southeast Asia’s first surviving IVF quadruplets. Three girls, Chun Ping, Chun Li and Chun Di, and their brother Min Bin were delivered by Dr Cheng Wei Chen through caesarean section. The smallest born was Chun Li (1.5kg and 42cm long) while Min Bin was the biggest (1.9kg and 45cm long).

The Straits Times, 18 May 1989

It was also announced then that the IVF clinic would start an embryo freezing programme to help women who need to come back for a second attempt. The clinic would be able to draw more eggs than necessary from the woman to freeze the extra embryos. This would reduce the chances of multiple births as fewer embryos would now be needed to be transplanted back into the womb at any one time. Previously, a woman would need at least four embryos transplanted before she had a fighting chance of getting pregnant.


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The aggressive upgrading of the old and introduction of new state-of-the art equipment was an ongoing exercise that was to pay dividend. In 1982, the once humble radiography room had matured into a fully-fledged obstetric ultrasound department and in doing so made TMC the first private hospital here to possess such a facility. From strength to strength, TMC ploughed ahead, breaking new ground with its innovations and earning widespread respect and regard. It raised the ante in 1987 by setting up the Thomson Fertility Centre where couples with difficulty conceiving a baby could turn to in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) technology for help. Again, TMC became the first private hospital in Singapore offer this. The research link with the O&G Department of London’s King’s College Hospital earned TMC international credence, which was to, in the ensuing years, open up a new market – that of the international medical patient. But even before the last banner to celebrate its opening could be taken down, the clinic recorded its first success. In 1988, Wei Chen delivered Singapore’s first IVF triplets conceived artificially at the clinic, to an Indonesian couple. This momentum carried into 1989 and so too did TMC’s history-making feats. On Mother’s Day, May 14, Southeast Asia’s first surviving IVF quadruplets; three girls and one boy, were delivered by caesarean to a Singaporean couple. Incidentally, this milestone also marked the last time that TMC was to implant more than three embryos in a woman’s womb. This was a conscious attempt by the hospital to lower the risk of multiple pregnancies and hence the risk of complications. While the successes of the IVF clinic provided a huge spur, TMC was not contented. It wanted to further extend its fetal maternal capabilities by introducing high-expertise and high-technology into the frame. To this effect, in 1989, Singapore’s first private cytogenetic laboratory for the early diagnosis of Down Syndrome and Thalassaemia was set up. The next decade was a period of pronounced growth where records were broken on a regular basis. While never straying from its core specialties, TMC was always pushing to provide wider and more holistic healthcare services to women and their families. The Breast Clinic was one such example.


“Whether it was a lifestyle change or medical treatment, Wei Chen’s Healthy Aging Clinic got patients looking, thinking and feeling younger.”

“I’ve been looking after my women patients since they were young. I delivered their babies, look after them through their 30s, 40s and 50s, and when they go into menopause. I was seeing directly how aging affected my patients’ physical as well as mental and social well-being.”

TMC’S FORAY INTO HEALTHY-AGING “The decline in oestrogen levels made them looked physically less attractive, become more forgetful, or even experience decreasing ability to concentrate. Some even complained of body aches and joint pains or hair loss. They experienced huge mood swings, were easily angered, depressed and often cried for no reason.”

“With decline in testosterone levels, they also found their sexual desire disappearing and sexual intercourse was no longer enjoyable with their partners. With all these confounding factors, they became increasingly irritable and these emotional changes affected the intimacy they once enjoyed with their husbands as well as their relationship with other family members as they found it increasingly hard to balance both duties in their careers and family.”

Dr W C Cheng, on the reasons why he decided to start wellness and healthy-aging services at TMC in 1998. He is a member of the American Anti-Ageing Academy of Medicine and a founder member of the International Society for the Study of the Ageing Male. Mrs Bian winning the Mrs Classic Singapore 2001.

“Interestingly, many come to me and ask: Is there something wrong with my husband too? Their husbands have become bad-tempered, fat, irritable, grumpy, and terribly difficult to live with.”


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Stemming from Wei Chen’s deep interest in anti-aging medicine, healthy aging services were introduced at TMC in 1998 to counsel, diagnose and treat women for a wide range of problems associated with aeing. These services were soon made available to men and resulted in the setting up, in 2001, of the Thomson Healthy Aging Clinic. In 1999, the advanced Fetal Assessment Unit was set up. Another essential contribution to its core business, the unit would now provide dedicated prenatal diagnostic and obstetric ultrasound services. Moving into the new Millennium, there was a notable proliferation of uncertainty – Armageddon and the Y2K bug bothered the global community while here in Singapore – concerns were rife over depressing en bloc payouts and skyrocketing COE prices. TMC meanwhile, powered on to chalk up even more accolades. One in particular, was to set the global medical fraternity abuzz in 2000. Embryologists from TMC’s Thomson Fertility Centre pioneered a technique that achieved the world’s first successful human birth from frozen eggs and frozen testicular sperm. A pair of twins was delivered to a Singaporean couple who both had complicated fertility problems. It was hailed as a scientific breakthrough that stood to offer another glimmer of hope for infertile couples. After two years of splendid growth, there was no denying TMC had anchored its claim as the most popular private maternity hospital in Singapore. It appeared that the TMC ship was steaming ahead to greater things – one reason why nobody expected what was to come next.

The Straits Times, 28 Nov 1994


A FROZEN FIRST A team of embryologists from Thomson Fertility Centre, led by Dr Chia Choy May produced the world’s first babies conceived from frozen eggs and frozen testicular sperm. Previously, either eggs or sperm were frozen. This was a unique case where the man had no sperm in his ejaculate while the woman was diagnosed with polycystic-ovary syndrome, characterised by enlarged ovaries which struggled to ovulate. The extracted cells were then joined in the laboratory. When fertilised, the embryo was implanted into the woman’s womb. Thereafter, a pair of healthy twins developed and both were delivered by caesarean section. The success was published in the Human Reproduction Journal produced by the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in September 2000.

Dec 2000 The Straits Times, 29

BBC News, 29 Dec 2000


CHAPTER 3

�ri�

� �or�


42 SHAPING OF A VISION

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tw� deca�e � After almost

of operation...

TMC had experienced significantly more ups than downs. There were of course, the ‘exclusive hiccups’ from time to time such as equipment malfunctions, emergency repair-work or inconvenience due to upgrading work. However, these caused, at most, temporary glitches.


Chapter 3 Grit & Glory

On a bigger scale, global situational crises had affected TMC like they did any organisation. Yes, she took some knocks along the way, tolerated operational disruptions and growth at times was subdued, but by and large, she coped well to emerge fairly unscathed during the period from 1979 to 1996. However, towards the tail end of the 1990s, brewing from sudden external influences, TMC was soon to find itself up against a slew of challenges. As part of an upgrading exercise in 1997, plans were incorporated to build an underground carpark to alleviate the hospital’s long-standing space problems. The planned carpark was to function on a computerised automated car retrieval system. With convenience in mind, patients and visitors could simply alight at the hospital’s entrance and leave their vehicles with a team of valets. The vehicles would then be driven into and aligned within an enclosed elevator platform which would be activated by a cash card. Once the vehicle is brought down to a designated floor, a conveyor will take it to an empty pallet. When done with their business, visitors need only ‘signal’ their vehicles to ‘come back up’ to them by using their cash cards. To complete the service, the valets will drive their cars out from the enclosed platform to hand them over.

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A very sci-fi and novel prospect when completed but the trouble was with the contractor who had difficulties in completing the basement computerised car park and kept shifting the completion date month after month. The delay in completion posed a huge problem for the hospital, as it created massive traffic jams along the road entrance at the front of the hospital. Concurrently, a second problem was to trigger a third. When it rains, it pours.

“There were multiple

whammies we were facing. Aside from the construction and financial problems, things got really hairy when the banks started to get on our backs. It was really a tough time for everyone. Looking back, I think it was the worse time in our history. I hope we don’t have to go through that sort of thing again.” Dr Cheng Li Chang describing the crisis that hit TMC.

The Asian Financial Crisis that descended on the region in 1997 did not spare any organisation, TMC included as it was in the midst of constructing their Millennium Wing. However, the construction company working on TMC’s new wing was hit even worse. It went bust. Executive Deputy Chairman, Dr Cheng Li Chang, recalls, “The front of TMC was left with a gaping hole which was definitely not good for business.” The construction delay left an untidy feel to the hospital and had also caused a great deal of inconvenience to patients and visitors. Not surprisingly, many chose to deliver at other hospitals. So ultimately, patient loads plummeted. From an average of almost 500 monthly deliveries, a ‘good month’ then would see TMC barely hit 300, and even this was rare.

The inception of the first few Thomson Women’s Clinics across the island in 2000 failed to stem TMC’s declining revenues. More worrying though, was that the hospital’s financial backbone – the banks, were showing lack of support and understanding despite the financial crisis. “It was clear that while people felt ours was a sound business, the juxtaposition of the financial crisis, construction problems and unfriendly banks put enormous pressure on TMC. It was made worse because we were operating without a CEO at that time. As a stop-gap, I was interim CEO whilst we looked for someone to come in and take over,” shares Li Chang, who is also Medical Director of Thomson Fertility Centre.


Chapter 3 Grit & Glory

T

MAN ON A MISSION he healthcare industry in Singapore is small so it was no surprise that Mr Allan Yeo and TMC’s Founder and Executive Chairman Dr Cheng Wei Chen had known of and were familiar with each other’s respective exploits. In 2002, Allan was formally introduced to Wei Chen and Li Chang by the then Director of Nursing, Ng Ai Choon. This was followed up with discussions over meals between Li Chang and Allan. After interviewing several other potential CEOs, Li Chang decided that Allan was the most suitable for the tasks ahead and gave his recommendation to the board.

MR FIX-IT Allan Yeo had established himself as an astute project manager during his time as Director of Operations at the National University Hospital (NUH). After serving in NUH for seven years, including a two-year stint as Project Director overseeing the hospital’s Phase III Kent Ridge Wing development, in 1994, Allan became Chief Executive Officer for Singapore’s flagship project in India, the Bangalore Information Technology Park. In 1996, he joined HMI Holdings Ltd as Group Chief Executive Officer. He turned around the company and had it listed in 1999. He subsequently became the Managing Director of Mahkota Medical Centre in Malacca where again, he managed to stem the institution’s dipping fortunes. Allan was also project consultant to the Al-Bukhary Hospital in Alor Setar in Kedah, Malaysia. Allan assumed the post of Group Chief Executive at TMC in July 2002 and listed the company in January 2005. Allan is also the Project Director for TMC’s project, Hanh Phuc International Women and Children Hospital in Binh Duong Province in Vietnam.

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“What spurred me to come on board is that I like to go to companies that are in need of assistance. That was the challenge for me, to go in and turn things around,” quips Allan, whose only condition was that his hands not be tied once he joined TMC. Wei Chen agreed. “Dr Cheng was widely respected but when I met him, I discovered first-hand that he was also a very honest and sincere man. He was transparent from the very start; revealing TMC’s books to me,” recalls Allan. The first day at work, Allan got himself up to speed with the carpark and construction problems. He also began combing through financial and operational details. Second day on the job, Allan was called in to meet with officials from TMC’s bank. They had no axe to grind or sword to cross. Allan was simply told in no uncertain terms that he had to raise a huge sum of money within a month to reduce the bank borrowing. Allan, together with his team, proceeded to scour for the necessary funds. He quickly put into place a recovery road map for TMC and presented it to many of the hospital’s doctors and potential investors. Existing shareholders chipped in. Some of the tenant specialists at TMC were willing to contribute while Wei Chen’s personal contacts helped as well. Allan also had to move fast to dispose of TMC’s loss-making subsidiary, Westpoint Family Hospital, which provided step down care facilities and services. He felt the need for TMC to remain focused in its core business of managing women and children’s health. Surprisingly, with a few days still to spare, he met his target. Though Allan’s resourcefulness and powers of persuasion would have come in handy, he felt there was another factor at work too. “It hit me then what Dr Cheng had achieved in terms of building the TMC name because the people who opened their cheque-books, either knew of someone who had good experiences there or simply trusted the brand.” Unfortunately, Allan’s relief was short-lived. On receiving the funds, the bank presented a restructuring plan that was, in Allan’s eyes, far beyond what TMC was prepared or even able to honour. In a nutshell, the arrangement would deprive TMC of the financial muscle required to improve and expand its services that could add more revenue for the hospital.


Chapter 3 Grit & Glory

47

Undeterred, Allan and his management team set off to find another bank. However, after consideration of TMC’s predicament, many banks were against the refinancing and restructuring of its loan. Alas, the chips were down, the jokers all gone and the trick-bag turned inside out. Now, only a stroke of unimaginable good fortune could save TMC. Lo and behold, it struck. Standard Chartered Bank (StanChart) had initially turned Allan down but several days later, a senior officer from the bank called to inform him about their change of heart. The mysterious U-turn was traced back to Ms Euleen Goh, the then Chief Executive of the bank. Her trust in TMC was evident by the munificent terms StanChart provided. She maintains, “TMC has an excellent brand with skilled professionals and strong and loyal clients. She has always been focused on its professional expertise, giving quality service and a personal touch to all its patients. I had personally experienced the excellent skills of the doctors, appreciated the superb nursing care and the team spirit of all the staff.”

Euleen Goh, Chairman, Singapore International Foundation (former Chief Executive of Standard Chartered Bank, Singapore).


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“TMC is one of Singapore’s leading providers

of healthcare services for women and children. The company enjoyed a good reputation for quality services. This, together with increased demand for healthcare services ensured the company was well positioned in a growth industry. Moreover, although negatively impacted by the performance of a subsidiary, which has since been disposed, the fundamentals of the company’s balance sheet were sound.”

Mr Lim Cheng Teck, Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive, Standard Chartered (China) Ltd, on reasons why the bank decided to support TMC.

Euleen, who is now the Chairman of the Singapore International Foundation, adds, “Despite those difficult times for TMC, we (StanChart) believed in its management team, supported their planned actions and provided the financial backing and guidance towards recovery and eventual successful listing.” Mr Lim Cheng Teck, who subsequently took over from Euleen, shares his bank’s undertaking. “The bank advised TMC to reassess their business model while providing facilities at competitive rates. This allowed them to restructure investments, focus on its core business and reduce interest costs.” In doing so, the bank was able to look beyond a short term reactive response and provide TMC with a long-term solution which addressed the problem at its source. Mr Lim asserts, “Working together with us, TMC was able to turn things around by the next financial year. This was a reflection of the company’s resilience, robust business fundamentals and strong leadership.” So this, as it turned out, was just the life-line TMC had been hoping for. But there was still a whole lot of work to be done.


Chapter 3 Grit & Glory

Separately, while all this was taking place, Allan sought to solve the nuisance and inconvenience that was the hospital’s construction conundrum. He managed to get the main building renovations back on track but the work on the underground carpark posed a bigger problem. It had dragged on for over four years due to the contractor’s leg-iron approach to the project. Allan was itching to terminate TMC’s association with the contractor but limited knowledge of the carpark’s technology left him with no option. The contractor proceeded to work on the basement car park and thereafter, managed the 150-lot car park operations. “He brought in his own people, valets mostly and kept demanding for payment even though work progress was very slow. He made many promises that he would finish the construction of the basement carpark but each time he failed to deliver. We grew suspicious and started to document things that did not add up. The last straw came on a very busy Saturday morning when, without warning, he instructed his valets to stage a walk-out because we refused to pay him for work not done,” Allan discloses. The contractor’s attempt to hold TMC hostage to their ‘expertise’ backfired. “My staff and I became the most expensive valet drivers in history until help arrived. Our lawyers drew up the necessary letters and we finally got rid of them. We were really fortunate to have the assistance from Inter-Roller Engineering Limited, who came in to complete and operationalise our automated basement car park.” Allan declares. By 2003, the fiasco with the $20 million computerised basement carpark was finally put to rest.

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D

THE THOMSON SPIRIT espite the difficulties that were plaguing TMC at the time, patients came and went, oblivious to the staff ’s woes. Pay-cuts were the order of the day while bonuses and increments disappeared from the salary radar altogether. Allan recounts, “I did not blame those who chose to leave but at the same time, my spirits were lifted when some long serving core staff offered their full-hearted support. It was a display of genuine selflessness I had never experienced before. I was really touched.” Having served with TMC for many years, some from the very beginning, staff members came in trickles, then droves, to assure Allan of their steadfast support. “The management led by Dr W C Cheng had always spent time and effort to build rapport with the staff. We felt one with the hospital.

Director of Nursing, Ms Ho Soo Sum, has been with the hospital since its inception.


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With this loyalty, it was easier for us to support and understand why certain measures had to be taken during the difficult period,” reveals Matron Ho Soo Sum, TMC’s Director of Nursing who was with TMC from the onset. Deputy Director of Nursing, Helen Mah, was another prepared to rough it out. Having joined TMC’s nursing staff in 1982, she recalls the day Allan approached her department. “He came by and told us that we had to take some hard and unpopular decisions. We listened intently and after some internal discussions, I told him that we would be here no matter what. After all, TMC had given us many good times so in difficult times, I figured it would only be fair to support her. We needed each other.” Comforted that the salaries of the junior nurses and lower income earners would be immune to any pay freezes or cuts, Helen managed to galvanise her team. In fact, many surprised her by remaining driven and without so much as a blink, continued to offer the same sterling level of service that was synonymous with the TMC way. Up and down the ranks, people were ready to help keep the hospital afloat. The doctors too played their part. Dr Yeo Ker Chiang, who opened his specialist O&G clinic in 1988, recalls a significant drop in business when trouble descended on TMC. For many years, he had appreciated how his patients had benefited from the TMC way of personalised care and its cosy ambience. He too felt that it was his ‘duty’ to contribute in whatever way he could to ensure its survival.

“It takes a special group of people to make such sacrifices and I’m honoured to be working with such a team. We are like a family here at TMC. We play together and have fun together. TMC took care of us in good times so in difficult times, it was important that we stuck with her to work towards a recovery. So we felt that whatever they had to do to our salaries, we would be here the next day.” Helen Mah was trained in neonatal intensive care at a local government hospital before coming to TMC. Having spent the past 27 years there, she now considers the hospital her second home.


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An epidemic of selflessness was spreading across the hospital, and even began seeping into the boardroom. On the Board of Directors, Dr Hari Harilela did what he could financially to demonstrate his staunch support for Wei Chen. “During those bad times, TMC needed all the support and money it could muster. Seeing what Dr Cheng was doing to raise the funds, I could not just sit by and watch a friend go through it all alone.” Harilela adds, “I am also a major shareholder so I had to help out from a business standpoint. Although I could have easily bailed out and cut my losses, the idea never crossed my mind because I totally had faith in TMC and Dr Cheng to turn things around.” The ranks had been closed across the boards. In 2004, the dust of despair had finally settled. The notorious carpark was operational, the repelling renovations completed and the hospital had dragged itself out of the red. Moreover, the banks were no longer on their backs. TMC reverberated with huge sighs of relief from all quarters. Suddenly there was a new feeling of hope and expectancy. TMC bubbled with energy, invigorated with fervour and itched to get back on track. Her sails opened and began to catch the breeze once again.

“With the front of the hospital an eye-sore for so long and with the parking inconveniences, many of my patients actually thought we were closed. We could have left as our patient loads dropped tremendously. But many of my colleagues and I felt that it was not a nice thing to do to TMC after they have given our patients such a high-level of care. It’s the whole experience that has them coming back again and again. We knew that.” Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Dr Yeo Ker Chiang approached TMC in 1988 when he wanted to go into private practice and has been there ever since.


Chapter 3 Grit & Glory

D

SECOND WIND uring his initial meetings with Wei Chen, Allan had expressed his desire to list TMC on the stock exchange to help raise the required funds for expansion. This was very much in sync with TMC’s listing aspirations. In fact, a round of meetings with in-house doctors had already taken place. “To go for an IPO, the company had to be visible. People knew it was a good hospital but to survive a listing and be an attractive stock to the public, awards and accreditation always help,” stresses Allan, who began to dedicate whatever funds at his disposal to raise service standards and gradually improve infrastructure. The aim was to now showcase the TMC brand under the public spotlight. The hard work was vindicated when the hospital received its first awards in 2004, the Superbrands Award by Superbrands Singapore and the Singapore Promising Brand Award (SPBA) granted by the Association of Small & Medium Enterprises (ASME) and Lianhe Zaobao for creating a unique and recognisable identity.

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“When TMC was in trouble, many of us who could afford it, chipped in to buy shares into the company. Although it was not a considerable amount, I think the message was more important. It was an endorsement that the tenants were standing by you. To investors and banks, that is an important vote of confidence. The IPO was our reward and credit must go to Allan. He got us out of trouble and then he got us listed.” Dr Yeo Ker Chiang on going public.

In January 2005, Thomson Medical became the newest kid on the SESDAQ block. TMC continued to innovate and expand its services on its own initiative. An example was the launching of the First Born Incentive (FBI) and Subsequent Born Incentive (SBI) maternity membership programmes in April 2004. Interestingly, this was launched even before the Government announced similar changes to its pro-family Baby Bonus incentives in August 2004. “The FBI card is a really useful card as it provides us a host of discounts and member rates for hospital services such as my wife’s fetal assessments and visits to the paediatrician,” declares FBI member, Mr Chong Heng. Over the next few years, awards came fast and furious; the Singapore Promising Brand Award 2005 & 2006 and Singapore Promising Brand Distinctive and Silver Award 2006, Superbrands Consumers’ Choice Award 2006, Singapore Health Award 2006, Singapore Quality Class 2006 and Most Transparent Company Award 2006, 2007 and 2008.


SCHEMES AND CLUBS The FBI and SBI were introduced in 2005 to make parenthood a more delightful and rewarding experience. With more privileges added over the years, membership to both schemes has grown to 5,700 members as of July 2009. These schemes have succeeded in boosting deliveries and increasing the patronage of facilities and services at the hospital.

The Thomson Junior Angels Club (Thomson JAC) was set up explicitly for patients to forge a strong relationship with their children. This service has also helped TMC build brand loyalty and provided added reasons for expectant women to deliver at TMC.


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In 2007, TMC was also the overall winner of the “Most Established Brand” award category of the Singapore Prestige Brand Award 2007 which recognises outstanding brand performance of home-grown brands in Singapore. That same year, TMC was also accredited the Pro-family Business Mark by the “Making Business Pro-family Workgroup” and recognised as a People Developer organisation by Spring Singapore. 2008 saw TMC win the Best Investor Relations Bronze Award in the Singapore Corporate Awards 2008. It also bagged another Singapore Prestige Brand Award in the same year. While the hospital has been recognised for its strong branding and business excellence, Dr Cheng himself bagged the Entrepreneur of the Year Award by the Association of Small & Medium Enterprises and Lianhe ZaoBao in 2004 and the Grand Entrepreneur Award and Best Entrepreneur Award (Faculty of Medicine) in the 2nd NUS Entrepreneur Awards 2007. More recently in July 2009, Allan received the Outstanding Entrepreneur Award in the Asia Pacific Entrepreneur Awards – Singapore 2009. As the TMC brand regained and underlined its repute in the public eye, the hospital continued to spruce up its wards and facilities, albeit in stages. Today, the wards ooze a distinctive resort-style ambience complete with spa music to relax the mind and body. Some suites are even equipped with a patient bedside terminal that allows visual communication between the patients and nurses to enhance service efficiency. Patients can also surf the Internet, check their email, listen to music, play video games and shop online for hospital or retail products.


AN INDONESIAN COUPLE’S DOUBLE JOY Surya Wibisono and Juni Sukito got married in 1999 and wanted to start a family immediately. They tried for a year but without success. Suspecting something amiss, they visited a local doctor who found that Juni had problems that were hampering her ability to conceive. On the doctor’s recommendation, the couple underwent IVF but it failed and thereafter, they shelved their plans for a baby. Years later, a friend who was aware of the high expertise and good success rates at Thomson Fertility Centre, suggested that Surya and Juni head to Singapore. In 2005, they met with Dr Cheng Li Chang, Medical Director at the centre and soon began IVF there. Dr Cheng’s patience and the couple’s determination paid off in October 2006 when Juni became pregnant. On July 15, 2007, Darren and his twin sister Aurryn were born without incident.

TMC also embarked on a more aggressive marketing strategy to raise awareness of its healthcare services in the region. Invariably, the goal was to also tap the ever-growing international patient market. The number of foreign patients has been growing steadily over the years and despite the current global crisis, TMC saw an increase in foreign patients from 22% to 24% of its total patient load. Li Chang remarks, “Singapore is a tiny and shrinking market, so in order for us to expand and take our growth to the next level, we have to look outwards, beyond our shores.” While Indonesians comprised the bulk of TMC’s international patients, over the years, notable increases in patients from China, the Philippines, India and Korea have been recorded. Singaporeans however, continue to constitute the majority of TMC’s patient load. Between 2004 and 2008, an era of depressing national birth rates, TMC had paradoxically but consistently achieved growth in the number of babies it delivered. From a monthly delivery of around 450 babies in 2004, TMC recorded monthly averages in 2008 of around 720 babies.


58 SHAPING OF A VISION

Celebrating 30 Years Thomson Medical Centre

(Total: Private and Subsidised Patients)

NATIONAL DELIVERIES CONSTRUCTION

GLOBAL RECESSION

SARS

ASIAN CRISIS 50,000

47,333 43,664

45,000

46,997 43,336

41,775

40,000

40,864 37,485

37,174

37,593

2003

2004

2005

38,317

39,375

39,935

2007

2008

35,000 30,000 25,000 20,000 15,000 10,000 5,000 0

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2006

YEAR

TOTAL DELIVERIES IN TMC CONSTRUCTION

(Private Patients only)

SARS

GLOBAL RECESSION

10,000 ASIAN CRISIS

9,000 8,000

7,389

8,033

8,611

6,628

7,000 6,000 4,764

5,000

4,393

4,512

4,745

1998

1999

2000

4,401

4,909

5,294

5,393

2003

2004

4,000 3,000 2,000 1,000 0

1997

2001

2002

2005

2006

2007

2008

YEAR

What was remarkable about this was that they were achieved without a compromise in clinical expertise and service standards. Testament to this and all unfolding in 2008, 58 of TMC’s employees were awarded the Excellent Service Award by SPRING Singapore, Li Chang won the Merck-Serono Assisted Reproductive Techniques Young Investigator Award and one Madam Sharifah Salim returned to TMC for the seventh time. “My experiences at TMC throughout all my seven childbirths were nothing short of wonderful. The ambience and services provided have always made me look forward to my visits there,” expresses Madam Salim.


Chapter 3 Grit & Glory

Over the course of its extraordinary voyage thus far, many heroes have emerged and countless acts of selflessness displayed. However, for TMC’s patients of past, present and indeed the future, one group has and will always stand out. They have become a permanent patch woven into the TMC fabric. In good times or in bad, they did not shirk responsibility or duty. Their philosophy of personalised care with a smile transcended boundaries. The nurses at TMC have always been central to promoting the hospital’s call to celebrate the dynamism of life. Since 1979, over 160,000 newborns have been touched by their now-legendary trademark of tender loving care. And not surprisingly, the tags of endearment from elated mothers have been forthcoming. But these days, one tag tends to dominate – Thomson Angels. At TMC today, there are close to 400 of them there! Who says angels are hard to find?

“It’s one thing to hear about the glowing testimony of TMC

but when I actually experienced it, I found out that TMC really delivers consistently on all fronts. Thomson Angels is really the equity and culture that defines a patient’s experience. This success is not incidental but a conscious drive by the hospital. You’re all models of service excellence” Madam Quennielyn (patient in May 2008)

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Celebrating 30 Years Thomson Medical Centre

T

A NEW DAWN hrough a combination of visionary leadership, astute management and marketing, and staff loyalty, TMC has belied its size to somehow offer an impressive array of services. She utilised space as best as she could. For instance, several non-medical departments were relocated outside the premises to make way for new wards and facilities. However, truth be told, she was bursting at the seams. Increasing revenue was imperative for the hospital to maintain its momentum of improvement and one way for this to happen was for TMC to expand beyond Singapore’s shores. Besides, it was strongly felt that the regional market would stand to gain from TMC’s 30 years of experience garnered from the local market. In 2005, opportunity came knocking when Thomson International Health Services (TIHS), TMC’s regional hospital consultancy and management arm, signed a MOU with Protrade Corporation from Vietnam to build a private hospital for women and children there. Prior to that, Protrade Corporation had heard of TMC’s expertise and paid a visit to the hospital. They were impressed with what they saw and decided that they wanted to bring TMC’s expertise to Vietnam. They subsequently invited TMC to Vietnam. Under the agreement, TIHS would play the role of Principal Consultant on a host of hospital planning, design development, project management, hospital commissioning and operational issues, among others. Construction for the massive 10-storey 260-bed hospital in Binh Duong, a southern province in Vietnam broke ground in 2006 and is expected to be completed by end 2009.


Chapter 3 Grit & Glory

Another MOU was signed only last year (2008) with the same developer to construct a similar women and children hospital in the country’s capital, Hanoi. In total, Protrade Corporation signed an exclusive arrangement with TMC for three projects in Vietnam. This will offer TMC an ideal opportunity to tap into the excellent potential of the Vietnamese market. In perspective, the total number of births in Singapore is 39,000 whereas in one hospital in Ho Chi Minh City alone, some 56,000 babies are delivered. So with a population of 86 million and birthrate of 16.47 per 1,000, the prospects are indeed enormous. “We recognise Thomson Medical’s leading position in private O&G and paediatric services and look forward to sharing its philosophy of celebrating life with our people of Vietnam,” shares Mr Nguyen Van Minh, Chairman of Protrade. Locally too, there was further expansion outside the hospital premises. The Thomson Women’s Clinics have been doing well to extend TMC’s feelers to other parts of the island. The Thomson Women Cancer Centre at Novena Medical Centre is a more current example of TMC’s commitment to outward expansion. Opened in March 2009 , the clinic will focus on the screening, diagnosis and treatment of cancers affecting women. While always striving for new heights of excellence and innovation in its core specialties, TMC is also committed to extend a more holistic approach to healthcare to women and her family members. Wei Chen has, without question, achieved much success over the years but experience in his 78 years of life has taught him to be humble and mindful of the future. “In truth, mine was not really a new way of doing things, just a different way. But with service and expertise in obstetrics and gynaecology levelling out across the board, it is important to think of new ideas and new avenues to be ahead of everyone. For me, the challenge is to keep myself at a certain pace without falling back,” he confesses.

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NO SIGNS OF SLOWING DOWN By his own rough estimate, Dr Cheng Wei Chen has delivered around 20,000 babies to date – a figure that continues to grow. At 78, he still keeps himself occupied with his impressive collection of Japanese koi and lately, his newly-discovered penchant for Chinese literature. His favourites include Dream of the Red Chamber by 18th century Qing writer, Cao Xueqin and Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Ming Dynasty author, Luo Guanzhong.

While he tries to swim daily, Wei Chen feels that his now-customary hospital rounds provide adequate exercise. He clearly shows no signs of slowing down. Ask him about retirement and he says...

“To do one’s work that is continuously enjoyable, that is retirement. My work is my life. I do not retire from this work.”


There is really no telling what is next on the cards for TMC but one thing for sure is that the future is an exciting one for her. Emerging from a magnificent face-lift which will no doubt conceal the battle-scars picked up over the course of her existence, TMC is now a stronger, more flexible and a seasoned campaigner in the healthcare realm. Though her path to greater glories will most certainly be lined with new challenges, she looks in better shape than ever to face them. Thus far, the TMC story has been an unscripted tale of love and care meshed into a meaty plot of delight and despair. Rising above the laughter and tears, the cast put up poignant performances. For 30 years, this drama unfolded on a curtain-less six-storey stage along Thomson Road – a stage brimming with life, bringing new life and best of all, celebrating life. TMC is 30 this year and her story continues...


�ri�utes an� �is�e � “On behalf of the Singapore Tourism Board, I congratulate the dedicated doctors, management and staff of Thomson Medical Centre on their 30th anniversary. Through the years, you have not only helped families welcome their bundles of joy but also offered countless patients exceptional healthcare services. We hope you will continue your good work and together, we will continue strengthening Singapore’s standing as a choice healthcare destination in the region.”

“We wish to congratulate Dr Cheng Wei Chen and Thomson Medical Centre on its 30th Anniversary. You have carved a special place in Singapore’s medical scene since 1979 and have given many mothers and children a special experience as a leading healthcare provider in the area of obstetrics, gynaecology and paediatrics. DBS Bank wishes Thomson Medical Centre, Dr Cheng, his management team, his doctors and nurses every success in the years ahead.”

MS AW KAH PENG

MR KOH BOON HWEE

Chief Executive, Singapore Tourism Board

Chairman, DBS Group Holdings Ltd

and DBS Bank Ltd

“On behalf of the Singapore Economic Development Board, I would like to offer my heartiest congratulations to Thomson Medical Centre on this special occasion. Over the past 30 years, TMC has established a strong reputation as a leading women and children’s hospital in Singapore and the region. I am confident that TMC will continue to deliver miracles and life, and contribute to the Singapore Medicine story for the next 30 years and beyond.” DR BEH SWAN GIN

“We wish Thomson Medical Centre a wonderful and memorable 30th Anniversary as well as continued success and happiness. Let’s look forward to the commencement of our Hanh Phuc Hospital and together, celebrate life!” MR NGUYEN VAN MINH

Chairman, Protrade Corporation

MD, Singapore Economic Development Board

“Congratulations to TMC on its 30th anniversary!! May the hospital, doctors and staff continue to flourish and the brand of Thomson Medical Centre shine as a brand for excellence in healthcare in the region.” MS EULEEN GOH

Chairman, Singapore International Foundation (former Chief Executive of Standard Chartered Bank, Singapore)

“Over the last 30 years, TMC has grown to be one of Singapore’s leading private women and children’s hospital. The opening of its Hanh Phuc International Women & Children’s Hospital in Vietnam marks another milestone in taking the Singapore brand of healthcare regional. IE Singapore is proud to be part of TMC’s growth and looks forward to continuing our partnership in bringing its services overseas.” MR CHONG LIT CHEONG

Chief Executive Officer,

International Enterprise Singapore

“We wish TMC continued success as it celebrates this important milestone. As we too mark an important year in our history, our 150th anniversary in Singapore, we look forward to partnering TMC for many years to come.” MR LIM CHENG TECK

Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive, Standard Chartered (China) Ltd

“My children and grandchild are proud to be associated with Thomson Medical Centre as it is where they were delivered. Congratulations on your 30th anniversary.” MR OEI HONG LEONG

Chairman of Oei Hong Leong Foundation


“Over the years, Thomson Medical Centre (TMC) has grown to become one of Singapore’s leading players in the private healthcare industry, providing quality medical expertise and excellent service to patients both locally and internationally. In addition to providing high-quality medical services, TMC’s continuous investments in technology, process enhancements and excellent customer service, is an indication of its commitment to provide the best possible care for all its patients. As the agency for enterprise development, SPRING Singapore is happy to have supported TMC in its journey towards greater business growth and becoming a leading Singapore healthcare brand. TMC is an inspiration for many growth-oriented companies in Singapore and is often regarded as a benchmark for service quality and innovation amongst the healthcare service providers. My heartiest congratulations to TMC as you celebrate 30 years of success and service to the healthcare industry. I wish TMC and all its staff many more years of success ahead.” MR PNG CHEONG BOON

“My heartiest congratulations to Dr Cheng Wei Chen on his leadership and vision to build Thomson Medical Centre to what it is today. Being a leader in women and children’s hospital for 30 years is not an easy task, and servicing more than 160,000 mothers is not something to be unnoticed. My family and I are proud to be associated with you. Happy Birthday Thomson Medical Centre. I wish you more good and fruitful years to come.“ MR JAMES WONG

National Athlete

“Congratulations to Thomson Medical Centre on its 30th Anniversary! 30 years of growth and expansion for TMC has only been possible because of a strong and visionary leadership, dedicated and loyal staff and satisfied patients which have led to referrals, generation after generation! May TMC continue to grow from strength to strength! God Bless!” MS EVELYN TAN AND MR DARREN LIM

TV Personalities

Chief Executive, SPRING Singapore

“It is hard to imagine the countless lives that TMC has touched in its 30 years of history. To be good at what you do takes determination, perseverance, and professionalism. That is what TMC is all about. My heartiest congratulations to TMC for your 30th anniversary, and please continue celebrating lives.”

“My family & I chose Thomson Medical Centre for its excellent medical care. Because the staff are so passionate in what they do, we have complete trust that our babies & children will be in good hands. I would like to congratulate TMC on its 30th Birthday and also Dr Cheng’s leadership in building a successful establishment that is now part of our wonderful parenthood experience."

MR DAVID LIM

MS HE YONGFANG Local Artiste

Olympian Swimmer

“Happy Birthday Thomson Medical Centre, and all the best!” MR & MRS CHEW CHOR MENG

TV Personalities

“Blessings to all especially Dr W C Cheng for giving hope to many women like myself who never thought they could ever enjoy motherhood.” MS GRACE YOUNG

“There could never be a word that could express our gratitude in helping us to be a complete family. The presence of our triple joy – Aditya, Aisya and Artha, and now Adinda, is a combination of God’s blessing and the advance medical facility of Thomson Medical Centre. I hope this can be enjoyed by other couples who would like to complete their family.” MS EVA MAZRIEVA News Producer, Jakarta

Former National Bowler

“Thomson Medical Centre, hearty congratulations on your 30th Anniversary! Thanks for your warm and friendly hospitality. Wishing you many more successful years to come! Cheers!”

“Happy 30th Birthday Thomson Medical Centre! May you continue to enjoy many more years of success and be a part of many more wonderful parenthood journeys. My heartiest congratulations to Dr Cheng Wei Chen on his foresight and having his dream of building a successful private women and children’s hospital realised!”

MS VIOLET FEN YING Love 97.2FM DJ

MS RAHIMAH RAHIM

Veteran Singer


CHAPTER 4

�roof

o�

th� �u��ing


68 SHAPING OF A VISION

Celebrating 30 Years Thomson Medical Centre

�ver the �ear� the patient load at TMC has risen substantially...

And, this has increased the pressure on the demand for beds. Even though efforts have been made to effectively turn around beds, the management felt that more had to be done. Basement seminar rooms were shifted across the road from TMC occupying a shop house. This made way for the setting up of day surgery units in the hospital premises. Other non-patient departments such as finance, human resources and prenatal laboratories followed suit and its vacated space was converted to patient services.


Chapter 4 Proof of the Pudding

Further utilisation and pressure on space meant that the Lifestyle Centre had to be moved to Novena to make way for medical suites and inpatient beds. Even the entire Management department, including the Group Chief Executive and Chairman’s offices, were moved out and turned into Premier Wards with five appointed suites. This is unlikely to be the last of such relocation exercises as TMC’s Management continues to look at other ways to shift other non-clinical areas to make way for more patient service areas. With a higher patient load, there is naturally a concern about adequate parking space. Although the construction of the automated basement car park with 150 lots has alleviated the problem somewhat, with more than 1,000 cars coming to TMC on a daily basis, other alternatives had to be sought. To help with this massive load, URA allowed TMC to use the car park at Whitley Road during office hours. For those parked there, arrangements can be made to retrieve their cars. Alternatively, at frequent intervals, Maxi-cabs engaged by TMC can ferry patients or visitors there. So with cars parked in the basement car park, open space car park or at the Whitley Road car park, TMC has found it necessary to employ about 14 valets (more on weekends), probably the most by any organisation. Judging from the recent face lift, TMC looks set to take its hotel-like ambience a notch up – to a resort style. A peep at its wards should convince anyone of this.

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Celebrating 30 Years Thomson Medical Centre

Thomson Suite

Spacious and complete with exquisite interior finishing and relaxing spa music, the VIP rooms and newly completed all-single rooms in the Premier Ward have a patient bedside terminal. With this new feature, patients can surf the Internet, play games, do some in-room shopping of hospital products, and most importantly, have visual contact and communication with nurses. Positive patient feedback on these rooms has clearly underlined TMC’s conscientious effort to be the innovator of services and provide patients as relaxing and comfortable an experience as possible. In total, with about 150 beds spread over its six-storey facility, TMC provides a comprehensive range of services specialising in obstetrics, gynaecology and paediatrics, including medical, surgical, therapeutic, diagnostic and preventive healthcare services. The demand for specialised services such as fertility treatment, pre-natal diagnostic fetal assessments and even aesthetic medicine, for instance, have warranted the setting up of dedicated centres and clinics. Adding to the Specialist Outpatient Clinics and Thomson Lifestyle Centre, TMC is now able to offer a fully integrated suite of facilities and services, across an impressive range of medical disciplines.


Chapter 4 Proof of the Pudding

Beyond its premises, TMC’s satellite network of seven Thomson Women’s Clinics has already added significantly to growth besides extending its local reach. With the newly opened Thomson Women Cancer Centre at the nearby Novena Medical Centre, and involvement in the construction and management of a major women’s and children’s hospital in Vietnam, one can only imagine what the next 30 years will bring.

One thing is certain though. After 30 years, the TMC commitment to providing the highest quality treatment and personalised care for mother, baby and every other family member, is as strong as ever. The proof lies in the pudding, or in this case, in the facilities and services that have sprouted up over the years. Many can testify to that; precisely 160,000 (babies) and counting.

71


��omso�

�n�e�

The Thomson Nurse is passionate in touching lives and healing With her patients, she celebrates life and new beginnings


Chapter 4 Proof of the Pudding

Thomson Fertility Centre (established in 1987) For over 750 babies this was where it all started for them. For their parents, it is here that they finally boarded the parenthood bus after having missed it so many times before. Run by an experienced team of embryologists, the centre has treated over 4,000 couples with fertility problems through its assisted reproduction programme. At its inception, it was the first private hospital in Singapore to offer In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) treatment. Remarkably, the centre’s first patient on the programme successfully gave birth to IVF triplets, a first in Singapore. This was anything but beginner’s luck as the centre went on to mark significant milestones in the ensuing years – notably one of Asia’s first surviving IVF quadruplets (1989) and one of the world’s first pair of twins from frozen eggs and frozen testicular sperm (2000). SERVICES AVAILABLE: • Investigations of male and female infertility with graduated treatment options such as Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), IVF, Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), frozen embryo cycles, assisted hatching, blastocyst culture, and in-vitro egg maturation • Andrology services to help azoospermic (absence of sperms in the semen) males including Microsurgical Epididymal Sperm Aspiration and Testicular Sperm Extraction • Specialised laboratory services supporting all gynaecologists which include semen analysis, sperm preparation for IUI and sperm banking for husbands of patients

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Celebrating 30 Years Thomson Medical Centre

Thomson Pre-Natal Diagnostic Laboratory (established in 1989) More often than not, the majority of babies are born normal. However, about 3 to 5 babies out of 100 births may be afflicted by birth defects, some of which are attributed to chromosomal abnormalities (0.5% of all newborns). Spotting this early in the pregnancy allows for parents to prepare for, and make proper plans and definitive decisions. This cytogenetics laboratory, again one of Singapore’s first, is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment to identify chromosomal abnormalities such as Down Syndrome and diagnose human genetic diseases like Thalassaemia. The laboratory’s highly qualified team comprises a cytogeneticist, a medical consultant and highly trained technologists.


Chapter 4 Proof of the Pudding

Thomson Fetal Assessment Unit (established in 1999) Since its set up, this unit has given countless expectant mothers that desirable yet elusive entity – a peace of mind. Equipped as a one-stop obstetric ultrasound and prenatal diagnostic service for pregnant women, the unit assesses the well-being of the fetus as early as in the first trimester of pregnancy. Early detection of any abnormalities via ultrasonographic screening can call for early and often vital intervention. The unit was the first of its kind in a private hospital in Singapore and is managed by a consultant maternal foetal medicine specialist who is assisted by a team of experienced sonographers. SERVICES AVAILABLE: • Ultrasound scans (2D/3D/4D) • Ultrasound imaging for risk assessment of chromosomal abnormalities in the first trimester (Nuchal Translucency Measurement) • Second trimester Fetal Anomaly (FA) Scanning • Cervical Length Measurements for prediction of pre-term labour • Uterine Doppler assessment for prediction of pre-eclampsia and poor fetal growth

• Ultrasound monitoring using Doppler colour flow imaging, as well as the biophysical profile • Amniocentesis • Thalassaemia Studies • Chorionic Villus Sampling • Cordocentesis/Fetal Blood Sampling • Multiple pregnancy (twins/triplets/ quadruplets) fetal assessment

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Celebrating 30 Years Thomson Medical Centre

Thomson Women’s Clinics (introduced in 2000) The desire to provide greater accessibility led to the setting up of a network of Thomson Women’s Clinics across the island. As a result, TMC quality obstetrics and gynaecology services, manned by established O&G specialists, are now available in Ang Mo Kio, Bukit Batok, Choa Chu Kang, Katong, Sembawang, Sengkang and Tiong Bahru. SERVICES AVAILABLE: • Women’s Health Screening • Antenatal Care and Delivery • Gynaecological Screening • Fertility Treatment • Pap Smear • Pelvic Ultrasound • Menopause Care • Contraceptive Counselling Services


Chapter 4 Proof of the Pudding

Thomson Lifestyle Centre (opened in 2001)

HEALTH SCREENING & WELLNESS PROGRAMMES Realising its desire to promote a healthy lifestyle, Thomson Lifestyle Centre introduced this programme in 2001 to assess one’s overall state of health whilst detecting and investigating signs of illnesses. The tests range from simple chest X-rays to detailed blood analysis. Apart from general health screening, gender-centric programmes are also available at the centre including special healthy aging screening. Should any health concerns emerge, counselling is provided to ensure that the proper course of action is taken i.e. lifestyle changes or specialist medical consultation. In case you didn’t already know, leaving patients in the lurch is not in TMC’s philosophy of caring.

WEIGHT MANAGEMENT PROGRAMME Being overweight or obese are major risks factors for a host of serious illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Losing weight seems the obvious solution but unfortunately, is riddled with poor motivation and improper guidance. Recognising these obstacles, this weightmanagement programme was introduced in 1988 to help women incorporate permanent and healthier dietary changes and exercise regimes into their lifestyle. Under one roof, women receive expert advice from nutritionists and physiotherapists while doctors are on hand should medical consultation or medication become necessary. Well-trained staff keeps an eagle-eye watch and are never too far away to dispense ‘nudges’ of motivation to ensure you stay with the programme.

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Celebrating 30 Years Thomson Medical Centre

Specialist Outpatient Clinics As a women’s and children’s medical centre, obstetrics, gynaecology and paediatrics were staples in TMC’s offerings. However, over time there was an increasing demand for treatment in other areas by mothers who had delivered in TMC, their children and other family members. To offer that convenience and retain patient patronage to the hospital, speciality clinics managed by a team of consultants offering consultation and treatment in an array of medical specialties were set up. SPECIALTY AREAS: • Cardiology

• Orthopaedics

• Colorectal and General Surgery

• Paediatric Surgery

• Dietary Counselling

• Renal Medicine

• Endocrinology

• Respiratory Medicine

• Gastroenterology

• Rheumatology

• Haematology

• Urology

• Oncology

BREAST CLINIC It is a very personal thing for a woman – caring for her breasts. Yet it is also vital to have them professionally examined every now and then. TMC understood this and set up this special clinic. Distinct privacy against a backdrop of comfort and convenience, countless women have since found it conducive to ensure their breasts are kept in the pink by taking advantage of a full range of breast care services. It is really a one-stop breast care centre and a unique one at that. SERVICES AVAILABLE: • Consultation, Assessment & Treatment for Breast Lumps, Pain or Discharge • Early Detection of Breast Cancer through Mammography & Breast Ultrasound • Quick Evaluation & Rapid Diagnosis of Breast Problems • Breast Cancer Risk Assessment & Counselling


Chapter 4 Proof of the Pudding

HEALTHY AGING CLINIC TMC’s philosophy on the inevitability of aging is that it is not something that should be left on auto-pilot. How we counter the gradual deterioration of our physical and mental health is certainly within our control to a large extent. Think enhanced quality of life. Established in 1998 as a wellness centre, and adopting its present name since 2001, the clinic’s healthy aging programme comprises counselling, diet choices, exercise, cosmetic and aesthetic management, relaxation and educational activities. Following an assessment of one’s state of health, lifestyle habits and concurrent medical problems, multi-disciplinary specialists step in to personalise a holistic programme. With proper medical management, a revitalised body and mind, and a change in lifestyle, men and women alike can delay the aging process. In our fast-aging world, that is priceless.

SEX COUNSELLING AND THERAPY SERVICES A healthy sex life is an enjoyable and important component in a healthy relationship, which also augurs well for the home environment and family dynamics. However, for some couples, problems may emerge which no blue pill may be able to solve. To help couples with sexual problems, the Sex Counseling & Therapy Clinic was established as part of TMC’s holistic approach in caring for its patients and their families. The clinic sees a host of problems mainly pertaining to erectile dysfunction, female sexual disorders and infertility which are all treated once identified. General sex counselling for all ages is also provided.

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Thomson Aesthetics Centre (established in 2005) The search for the elixir of eternal youth continues and so does the body’s wear and tear that comes with aging. While the former may be a fruitless endeavour, modern advances in medicine and technology can stem the latter. This centre, a joint venture between Thomson Medical Centre and a group of five specialists, provides medical aesthetics services that aim at restoring, renewing and rejuvenating both men and women. It also extends its services for children and babies who need treatment for unsightly birth marks.

SERVICES AVAILABLE: • Botox (facial contouring and wrinkle reduction) • Chemical Peel (reduces pigmentation, refines pores, facial tightening, acne treatment, etc.) • Fillers (reduction of facial folds and enhancing facial features) • Laser Treatment (non-ablative rejuvenation, pigment/tattoo removal) • Microdermabrasion (exfoliation of the superficial layer of the skin) • Radiofrequency Tightening (non-surgical face lift)


Chapter 4 Proof of the Pudding

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit When it comes to childbirth, it is always important to prepare for the unexpected or challenging cases. As such, TMC found it vital to install a state-of-the-art NICU facility to reassure parents that no matter what their babies’ condition at birth, they stand to receive the best possible care. Coupled with expertise from neonatologists and roundthe-clock care by highly trained neonatal intensive care nurses, the unit is well prepared to handle complicated cases requiring special attention such as congenital abnormalities, birth complications, multiple low birth weight and premature babies.

81


One complex case handled by the unit was that of Reanne Lim who was born premature on 14 October 2005. At 24 weeks maturity and weighing just 705g, she was then the smallest baby ever born at TMC.

A victory smile from Reanne in her second month.

Reanne on horse back.

On 4 February 2006, after her 100-day stay in TMC, Reanne was discharged weighing 2.14kg. Reanne’s father, Fabian Lim recounts,

“The nurses at NICU were helpful and sensitive to our feelings as first-time and worried parents. The paediatrician was very patient and clarified all our doubts. Despite our concerns about the medical fees, we did not want to transfer Raeanne to another hospital as we were uncertain of the quality of care the NICU at the other hospital could provide.”

Madison’s first picture.

More recently, another complicated birth involved Madison Lim who was born premature on 17 February 2008. At only 24 weeks, little Madison was delivered by assisted breech delivery and weighed only 610g. Madison spent 121 challenging days at TMC under close monitoring. By the time she was discharged, she weighed 2.77kg – an amazing four and a half times what she weighed at birth.

“So very proud and happy to be home with my wonderful mummy & daddy.”

“We were really touched by the dedication and support from TMC's Neonatal ICU staff. They not only took great care of our little Maddy for 4 months, they made sure we were taken care of as well. We greatly appreciate all the advice and words of encouragement from the staff.” Mr & Mrs David Lim with Madison Faith Lim – May 2008


Chapter 4 Proof of the Pudding

Thomson ParentCraft Centre There is more to having a baby than merely adding to the family numbers. It is a beginning of a new journey – one filled with anxiety and joy which can at times be overwhelming especially for first time parents-to-be and new parents. This centre helps to empower and equip parents with the practical skills required to grasp these changes and overcome the related challenges. Testament to its dedicated work, the centre has since built a reputation amongst thousands of appreciative parents as a resource oasis and caring partner in the parenting process. SERVICES AVAILABLE: • Antenatal and Postnatal Services • Baby Massage • Breastfeeding Counselling • Care for the Newborn • Caregiver Training • Childbirth Education • Confinement Nannies • Homecare Services • 24-Hour Postnatal Hotline

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Celebrating 30 Years Thomson Medical Centre

�ther �ervice � 24-Hour Family Clinic When it comes to health, TMC feels that every member of the family is equally important. True to this belief, the clinic, run by a team of resident medical officers, provides seamless care and offers general medical consultation for the treatment of common medical ailments.

First Born / Subsequent Born Incentive Programmes (introduced in April 2005) To make parenthood an extra delightful and rewarding experience, TMC introduced its very own pro-family incentive programmes. These integrated obstetrics programmes provide patients with one-stop convenience and exciting member privileges. Patients can obtain preferred rates for TMC services such as professional fees, maternity packages, hospital bills, outpatient visits and ultrasound services. They can also enjoy member privileges from TMC’s retail partners, carefully handpicked to complement their medical benefits. And because the health of a dad-to-be is equally important to fully enjoy parenthood, TMC has extended many privileges to keep him in optimal health as well.

Thomson Junior Angels Club (started in April 2007) Especially for the little ones, this unique club offers programmes to help them grow physically, mentally and emotionally. Specially crafted activities allow children to develop creativity, new talents and skills through their participation. Programmes are also run for parents wanting to be equipped with the necessary skills to raise happy and healthy children. Most important of all is that through this programme, TMC ensures its relationship with its patients continues even after they leave the hospital after delivery.


Chapter 4 Proof of the Pudding

International Patient Centre It was only a matter of time before word spread about TMC’s high quality of service and expertise. So as the number of foreign patients grew, TMC saw it fit to set up a dedicated centre catering to their specific needs. Today, anything from making appointment bookings to dispensing visitor information is conveniently handled by a friendly and professional team of International Patient Relations Officers. SERVICES AVAILABLE: • Medical Referrals • Appointment Bookings • Assistance on Admission and Discharge • Financial Counselling and Cost Estimation • Flight Arrangements • Accommodation (hotel and service apartments) • Transport / Airport Transfer Services • Visitor Information • Visa Arrangement/Extension • Concierge Services • Interpretation assistance arrangement for non-English speaking patients

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Specialist Tenant Clinics Some of the most experienced and respected specialists in their fields are housed in TMC. Together, the obstetricians and gynaecologists cover the length and breadth of this specialty and include experts in fertility treatment, foetal maternal medicine and laparoscopic surgery. The specialist paediatric clinics, in addition to providing neonatal, infant and child specialist medical services, extend into child guidance and behavioural medicine. NAME OF CLINIC

ATTENDING DOCTORS

ACJ Women’s Clinic #03-03 • Tel: 6353-2033

Dr Adrian Tan Dr Caroline Khi Dr Joycelyn Wong

Adelina Women’s Clinic #06-04 • Tel: 6358-4963

Dr Adelina Wong

A L Lim Clinic for Women Pte Ltd #05-05 • Tel: 6255-3333

Dr Lim Ah Leng

Beh’s Clinic for Women #05-03 • Tel: 6352-9227

Dr Beh Suan Tiong

Bernadette Yvonne Soong Clinic for Women #04-07 • Tel: 6353-9035

Dr Yvonne Soong

Dr Yvonne Chan Clinic for Women #06-06 • Tel: 6256-4664

Dr Yvonne Chan

Jeanette Chen Women's Clinic #05-02A • Tel:6255-5963

Dr Jeanette Chen

Judy Wong Clinic for Women #04-08 • Tel: 6255-2823

Dr Judy Wong Pui Ling

KC Yeo Clinic & Surgery for Women #05-04 • Tel: 6254-6688

Dr Yeo Ker Chiang

LN Sim Clinic for Women #04-05 • Tel: 6353-9270

Dr Sim Lee Ngor


Chapter 4 Proof of the Pudding

NAME OF CLINIC

ATTENDING DOCTORS

Noel Leong Fertility & IVF Clinic #06-05 • Tel: 6255-6883

Dr Noel Leong

Paediatric Centre #03-05/06 • Tel: 6259-5913 / 6256-3291

Dr Ang Poon Liat Dr Ang Ai Tin Dr Keoy Soo Shin BEHAVIOURAL MEDICINE DIVISION Dr Ng Koon Hock (Psychiatrist) Dr Clare Ong Kwee Hiong (Psychologist) Ms Alice Wong Tak Ying (Speech Therapist)

Singapore Baby & Child Clinic #05-06 • Tel: 6252-6115

Dr Ong Eng Keow Dr Julia Wong

TLC Gynaecology Practice #03-02 • Tel: 6254-2878

Dr Paul Tseng Dr Phyllis Liauw Dr Eunice Chua

WC Cheng & Associates #01-01 • Tel: 6253-4122

Dr Cheng Wei Chen Dr Cheng Li Chang Dr Tan Wee Khin Dr Madeleine Tan Dr Chang Tou Choong Associate Professor Tay Eng Hseon

WH Kee’s Clinic for Women #04-06 • Tel: 6253-6011

Dr Kee Wei Heong

William Verhoeven Orthopaedic Clinic #04-07 • Tel: 6353-9035

Dr Wilhelmus Jacobus Johannes Verhoeven

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NAME OF CLINIC

ATTENDING DOCTORS

Thomson Women’s Clinic (Ang Mo Kio Hub) 53 Ang Mo Kio Ave 3 #03-14 Tel: 6752-8500

Dr Michele Lee Sook Ling

Thomson Women’s Clinic (Bukit Batok) Blk 372 Bukit Batok West St 31 #01-376 Tel: 6569-0668

Dr Wong Mun Tat

Thomson Women’s Clinic (Choa Chu Kang) Blk 304 Choa Chu Kang Ave 4 #01-653 Tel: 6893-1227

Dr Adrian Woodworth

Thomson Women’s Clinic (Katong) 146 East Coast Road Tel: 6345-1439

Dr Geraldine Tan

Thomson Women’s Clinic (Sengkang) 5 Sengkang Square #01-05 Sengkang MRT Station Tel: 6388-8125

Dr Adrian Woodworth

Thomson’s Women’s Clinic (Sun Plaza) 30 Sembawang Drive #03-06 Sun Plaza Tel: 6753-5228

Dr Lawrence Ang

Thomson Women’s Clinic (Tiong Bahru) 298 Tiong Bahru Road #01-03/04 Central Plaza Tel: 6276-1525

Dr Woo Bit Hwa


COMMUNITY OUTREACH Over the years, TMC has displayed a commitment to the community by undertaking several projects. In 2004 for instance, TMC staff helped to raise funds for the Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund to help children from financially disadvantaged families. In April 2008, TMC’s involvement in the ‘Child Seats Save Lives’ outreach programme, together with the Singapore Traffic Police and Volvo, helped educate the public on the importance of the use of appropriate child seats to safeguard the lives of children. In June the same year, TMC was a medical partner in the Cold Storage Kids Run ’08. This was Singapore’s first kids-only run, aimed at encouraging a healthy and sporty lifestyle amongst children. A charity calendar was produced featuring celebrities who had delivered their babies at Thomson. The charity drive without doubt was a family effort, a Thomson family effort, made extra special by wonderful Thomson friends.


�arks o � �ucces� 1979

Thomson Medical Centre opened as the first private hospital in Singapore to introduce the novel concept of quality services and personalised patient care in a friendly home-like ambience.

1982 1987

First private hospital to set up an IVF clinic.

1988

Established research link with the Obstetric & Gynaecology Department of King’s College Hospital and London’s Women’s Clinic to enable the transfer of IVF and related assisted reproductive technology and expertise.

1989

Delivered Singapore’s first IVF triplets.

1998

First private hospital to set up an obstetric ultrasound department to introduce obstetric ultrasound scans.

Delivered one of Asia’s first surviving IVF quadruplets. Set up one of Singapore’s first private cytogenetic laboratories for early diagnosis of Down Syndrome and Thalassaemia.

Introduced a one-stop Breast Clinic to provide integrated breast care services. Introduced one of Singapore’s first men’s wellness and antiaging centres (renamed in 2001 to Healthy Aging Clinic to include such services for women).


1999

Celebrated its 20th Anniversary and delivered its 100,000th baby on 7th November.

Established the Fetal Assessment Unit which provides dedicated prenatal diagnostic and obstetric ultrasound services.

2000

One of the world’s first fertility clinics to produce a pair of twins born from frozen eggs and frozen testicular sperm.

Completion of the Millennium Wing.

Introduced a network of Thomson Women’s Clinics to extend specialist Obstetric & Gynaecology services beyond the hospital to the heartlands.

2001

2003

Opened the Thomson Lifestyle Centre providing health screening and healthy lifestyle services.

2004

Registered a 21% increase in deliveries compared with a national average decline of 20% from 1997 to 2003. Awarded the President’s Certificate of Commendation for organisation excellence in combating SARS.

Winner of the Singapore Promising Brand Award 2004 by the Association of Small & Medium Enterprises (ASME) and Lianhe Zaobao for creating a unique and recognisable identity. Executive Chairman, Dr Cheng Wei Chen was a winner in the Entrepreneur of the Year Award by ASME and The Rotary Club of Singapore.


2005

Admitted to the Official List of SGX – SESDAQ.

Signed agreement with the Protrade Corporation to provide hospital consultancy services for a private women and children’s hospital in Vietnam.

Winner of the Superbrands Award 2004/2005 by Superbrands Singapore.

Winner of the Singapore Promising Brand Award 2005.

2006

Attained Singapore Quality Class status conferred by SPRING Singapore.

Winner of the Most Transparent Company Award (SESDAQ Category) at the SIAS Investors’ Choice Awards 2006.

Winner of the Superbrands Consumers’ Choice Award 2006.

Awarded the Singapore Health Award 2006 by Health Promotion Board.

Winner of the Singapore Promising Brand Distinctive Award and Silver Award 2006.

Signed Hospital Management Agreement with Hanh Phuc International Women and Children Hospital in Vietnam.

Groundbreaking of Hanh Phuc International Women and Children Hospital.

2007

Accredited the Pro-Family Business Mark by the “Making Business Pro-Family Workgroup” supported by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports.

Ranked amongst the Singapore 1000 by DP Information Group for being a top performing company.

Recognised as a People Developer Standards Organisation by SPRING Singapore.

Executive Chairman, Dr Cheng Wei Chen was the winner of the Grand Entrepreneur Award and Best Entrepreneur Award (Faculty of Medicine) in the 2nd NUS Entrepreneurship Awards 2007.


2007

A winner of the Most Transparent Company Award (SESDAQ Category) at the SIAS Investors’ Choice Awards 2007.

Winner of the SPRING Singapore Excellent Service Award 2007 (EXSA), Silver Award.

Overall Winner, Singapore Prestige Brand Award 2007, Established Brands Category.

Transferred from SGX SESDAQ to SGX Mainboard.

2008

A winner of the Best Investor Relations Award (Bronze), SESDAQ companies in the Singapore Corporate Awards 2008.

A winner of the Most Transparent Company Award (Mainboard Small Caps Category) at the SIAS Investors’ Choice Awards 2008.

Awarded the Singapore Health Award 2008 by Health Promotion Board.

Signed Option to Subscribe Agreement for a 25% equity stake and Put Option Agreement on Hanh Phuc International Women and Children Hospital Joint Stock Company.

Signed Memorandum of Understanding on the provision of hospital consultancy and management services, and to acquire up to 25% equity stake, in relation to the proposed private women and children’s hospital project in Hanoi, Vietnam. (“Proposed Hanoi Hospital”)

Signed Agreement to Establish Business Plan for a proposed private hospital for women and children in Hanoi, Vietnam.

2009

Set up Singapore’s first private dedicated women cancer centre focusing on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of breast, gynaecological & colorectal tumours.


94 SHAPING OF A VISION

Celebrating 30 Years Thomson Medical Centre

Spreading its �in�s The TMC brand of care is such that there is no limit as to how much and how far it can extend...


Chapter 4 Proof of the Pudding

95

The setting up of its network of Thomson Women’s Clinics across Singapore is one example of how the local population has benefited. Another is the newly opened Thomson Women Cancer Centre. The rich icing on the regional cake beckons as TMC sits on the verge of extending its wings of personalised care into the international stage for the first time in its history. This is a bold move especially under such unprecedented and volatile economic conditions. But with strong leadership, a highly-competent and seasoned management team with strong business acumen in place and unwavering support from staff and well-wishers, TMC is all set to break new ground.

Thomson Women Cancer Centre (TWCC)

O

pened in March 2009 at the nearby Novena Medical Centre, Thomson Women Cancer Centre is Singapore’s and possibly the region’s first medical centre dedicated to the screening, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of breast, gynaecological and colorectal tumours. The centre, a venture between TMC and Assoc Prof Tay Eng Hseon, a well-respected senior gynaecological oncologist, will employ cutting-edge treatments and comprise a multidisciplinary team that will also treat the social and psychological trauma that often accompanies the disease. After an illustrious career in the public sector, Dr Tay is now set to lend his expertise and run the centre. Also on the team are Drs Denis Cheong and Low Sze Chuan. Dr Cheong is an expert in the management of complex pelvic tumours and recurrent cancer while Dr Low specialises in breast cancers and is an expert in ultrasound guided surgery and mammotomy.

The Thomson Women Cancer Centre professional team, A/Prof Tay Eng Hseon, Dr Denis Cheong and Dr Low Sze Chuan.


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B

Thomson International Health Services eyond our shores, Thomson Medical Centre has set its sights to inject its expertise and establish the Thomson brand name in the region. Thomson International Health Services Pte Ltd (Thomson International) was established to explore and develop strategic partnerships, healthcare consultancy and management projects as well as investment opportunities in the region. Inroads into Vietnam were made in 2005 when Thomson International was appointed the Project Consultant by Vietnam’s Hanh Phuc JSC to manage the design, construction and commissioning of the Hanh Phuc International Women and Children Hospital in Binh Duong Province, one of the fastest growing provinces in Vietnam. The 260-bed Hanh Phuc Hospital will provide a comprehensive range of services and facilities including pre-natal diagnostic laboratory and imaging services, childbirth education and parentcraft services, lifestyle and aesthetic services as well as fertility and women’s cancer treatment.


Chapter 4 Proof of the Pudding

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Hanh Phuc International Women and Children Hospital in Binh Duong Province, Vietnam.

Targeted for completion by the end of 2009, the hospital will be the first purposedesigned and built private specialty hospital for women and children healthcare services in Vietnam. Thomson International will be the management consultant to the hospital upon operational commencement in the first quarter of 2010. Thomson International has also entered into a strategic partnership with Hanh Phuc JSC on the planning, development and management of two more women and children’s hospitals in Vietnam. A business plan is currently being established for the second women and children’s hospital which will be in Hanoi.


MEAD JOHNSON NUTRITION has, for over 100 years, been providing the nutritional brands and products trusted to give infants and children the best start in life. Owing to this, Mead Johnson Nutrition has been a strong supporter of Thomson Medical Centre’s initiatives towards providing high quality healthcare to new mothers and their bundles of joy. Since Thomson Medical Centre was established in 1979, it has demonstrated its firm commitment to this cause and as a result, has become a household name. It is only fitting that Thomson Medical Centre caps three decades of service with the status as premier private maternity hospital of choice for many women in Singapore. We trust that it will continue to strive to build on their already trusted brand and move from strength to strength. Mead Johnson Nutrition would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Thomson Medical Centre on their 30th anniversary. We look forward to build upon our positive synergies to further enhance our mutually beneficial association.


SHAPING OF A VISION Celebrating 30 Years Thomson Medical Centre

99

�c�nowle��emen� F

irst of all, we would like to extend our sincere gratitude to the Minister for Health, Mr Khaw Boon Wan for his kind and generous words in the foreword to this book. The research and production process for Shaping of a Vision gave us the opportunity to chronicle our rich history spanning the last 30 years and pay tribute to our founder and chairman – the man behind the vision. It was his foresight, tenacity and perseverance that allowed us the opportunity to share in Thomson’s journey. Our special thanks go to the individuals who have dedicated their time and effort to assist in this memorable compilation. We deeply appreciate the contribution of our business partners, Thomson Friends new and old, doctors and staff who agreed to be interviewed, Simone Yeo and Yvonne Chew, who tirelessly helped to sieve through volumes of photo albums to capture the spirit of this journey, May Wong, Director of Corporate Development, for providing editorial guidance, and the Corporate Communications team, Cheryl Ng and Geraldine Lee for their support with the research and groundwork vital to the publication of this book. Most of all, we thank the Thomson Family for creating our Thomson history through their commitment and passion to serve our patients and making Thomson what it is today.


THOMSON MEDICAL CENTRE LIMITED 339 Thomson Road Singapore 307677 Tel: 6250 2222 Fax: 6253 4468 www.ThomsonMedical.com.sg

Thomson Medical Centre 30th Anniversary Book  

A razorSHARK design. 2009, August. © Thomson Medical Centre Ltd.