Mount Alvernia Hospital



Opened in 1961, Mount Alvernia Hospital is a non-profit private hospital in Singapore. It was founded by the Franciscan Missionaries of Divine Motherhood to provide healthcare services based on Christian values and Catholic teachings.1 Located at 820 Thomson Road, the complex encompasses a hospital, a 24-hour clinic, health screening centre, specialist clinics, pharmacies and retail outlets.2

History
In 1949, a small group of Franciscan missionaries were invited by the British colonial government to take up nursing posts in Tan Tock Seng Hospital. They started a training school for nurses and also nursed leprosy patients at the Trafalgar Home. With the medical facilities increasingly overcrowded, the sisters decided to set up a private Catholic hospital.3 Founded by Reverend Mother Mary Francis,4 the hospital cost $1.6 million to set up. The sisters from the Franciscan Order gave 10 years of pay towards defraying this cost. Donors and well-wishers also contributed to the funding.5


Philanthropist and businessman Lee Kong Chian, who was one of the key donors, officially opened the hospital on 4 March 1961. Over 200 people attended the opening, including then Minister for Labour and Law K. M. Byrne.6 When the hospital was first opened, it had only 60 beds and was fully staffed by 35 Roman Catholic nurses.7 In its first four months, about 10 percent of the patients received free treatment.8 The Catholic archbishop of Singapore, Gregory Yong, was treated there after a heart attack.9

Mother Mary Francis left Singapore soon after the hospital’s opening but returned to visit it in 1970.10

Expansion
A decade after its establishment, a S$2-million extension to the main hospital building was opened by then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew in 1971. The extension included three operating theatres, 70 beds, an outpatient department, laboratories and physiotherapy services.11


The Franciscan sisters ran the hospital until 1987. In 1990, it hired British-based group Health Management Trust to take over the management of the hospital.12 The new management further developed the hospital by building a new wing.13 The Franciscan order continued to maintain their presence in the hospital operations. In 2009, there were still 22 Franciscan nuns serving at the hospital, though no one new had joined them for more than a decade.14

In 2010, the hospital spent S$6 million renovating the building, adding more single rooms, medical suites and parking lots. This gave patients more room options.15

Services
As a non-profit hospital, Mount Alvernia provides medical services that are cheaper than other private hospitals in Singapore.16 It has 303 beds and hires over 1,000 doctors and specialists.17 The hospital started offering specialised healthcare in 1995 through specialist outpatient clinics on the hospital premises.18 Besides medical services, it also runs community health outreach programmes for senior citizens through collaborations with the People’s Association and Singapore Buddhist Association.19 In addition, it provides counselling for patients and relatives through its clinical pastoral care team.20


The Assisi Home and Hospice was opened next to Mount Alvernia Hospital in 1993.21 Previously, the hospital provided palliative treatment for chronically ill patients in a wing of Mount Alvernia, which had been built using donations from philanthropist Khoo Teck Puat.22 The new 35-bed hospice provides inpatient treatment, day care and home care services for the chronically ill.23 Patients admitted to the hospice pay subsidised rates.24

Over the years, Mount Alvernia has become known for its obstetric and paediatric services. Recently, it also ventured into medical tourism by setting up specialist centres. Such ventures targeted foreign patients and aimed to cover the cost of overheads and fund its subsidiaries such as the Assisi Hospice.25 Any annual surplus earned was channelled into upgrading the hospital and hospice.26

Mount Alvernia has also been recognised for its good management. The hospital provides mechanised scrubbers and automated trolleys to assist older workers.27 It was lauded for openly sharing its prices to help patients in choosing a hospital when other private hospitals in Singapore were not forthcoming in publicising their costs.28 The hospital was awarded the 2004 Singapore Quality Class Award by SPRING Singapore for its organisational excellence.29 It also won the Heritage Brand Award in the Singapore Prestige Brand Awards in 2010.30

Timeline
1949:
Arrival of Franciscan nuns in Singapore on invitation of local government to take up nursing posts.31

1961: Opening of Mount Alvernia Hospital.32
1969: New wing built from donations from Khoo Teck Puat.33
1971: S$2-million extension to the main building is opened.34
1990: Health Management Trust takes over the running of the hospital and builds a new wing.35
1993: Assisi Hospice is opened.36
1995: Specialist outpatient clinics are set up.37
2004: Plans to attract medical tourists are announced.38
2010: Hospital is renovated at a cost of S$6 million.39



Author

Faizah bte Zakaria



References
1.  Page 4 advertisements column 1. (2007, April 4). The Business Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore. (n.d.). Mount Alvernia Hospital. Retrieved 2016, July 7 from History of the Catholic Church in Singapore website: http://history.catholic.org.sg/mount-alvernia-hospital-3/; Page 30 advertisements column 1. (1996, March 4). The Straits Times, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Cheong, S.-W. (2009, September, 10). Mount Alvernia’s women of faith. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Lee, S. S. (1970, September 2). Founder of hospital returns to find it sprouting ‘wings’. The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. It has 250 beds, nursery and children’s ward. (1961, May 5). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. New S$1.6 million hospital opened. (1961, March 5). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Cheong, S.-W. (2009, September, 10). Mount Alvernia’s women of faithThe Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Mount Alvernia Hospital making ‘smooth progress’. (1961, July 12). The Singapore Free Press, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Archbishop in hospital. (1979, September 16). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Lee, S. S. (1970, September 2). Founder of hospital returns to find it sprouting ‘wings’. The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Lee opens new $2 mil Mt Alvernia hospital wing. (1971, September 22). The Straits Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. UK group hired to run Mount Alvernia hospital. (1990, September 21). The Straits Times, p. 25. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Rajaram, C. (1990, October 1). Mt Alvernia opens doors to private docs. The New Paper, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Cheong, S.-W. (2009, September, 10). Mount Alvernia’s women of faith. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Tay, S. C. (2010, April 17). Suite life at AlverniaThe Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Koh, B. S. (1995, August 22). Doctors snap up clinics at Mount Alvernia hospital. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Building on tradition. (2009, December 10). The Straits Times, p. 114. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Koh, B. S. (1995, August 22). Doctors snap up clinics at Mount Alvernia hospital. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Mount Alvernia Hospital. (n.d.). Who we are. Retrieved 2016, July 7 from Mount Alvernia Hospital website: https://www.mtalvernia.sg/who-we-are/
20. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore. (c2016). Mount Alvernia Hospital. Retrieved 2016, July 7 from History of the Catholic Church in Singapore website: http://history.catholic.org.sg/mount-alvernia-hospital-3/.
21. Pereira, B. (1993, April 13). Hospices will reduce pressure on hospitals: Cheow Tong. The Straits Times, p. 23. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Mount Alvernia Hospital 1961–1986: 25th anniversary. (1986). Singapore: The Hospital, p. 16. (Call no.: RSING 362.11095957 MOU)
23. Cheong, S.-W. (2009, September, 10). Mount Alvernia’s women of faith. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. Assisi Hospice. (2011). Our heritage – Assisi Hospice. Retrieved 2016, July 7 from Assisi Hospice website: http://www.assisihospice.org.sg/about/our-heritage/
25. Hospital eyes tourist dollar. (2004, August 20). Today, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. Mount Alvernia Hospital woos foreign patients. (2005, May 3). The Business Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
27. Giving them a chance. (2006, February 16). The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
28. Khalik, S. (2010, May 4). Private hospitals must also post price lists. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
29. Congratulations. (2005, October 10). Today, p. 38. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
30. Kwok, J. (2010, December 10). It lost its ‘Apple’ tag but kept core values. The Sunday Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
31. Cheong, S.-W. (2009, September, 10). Mount Alvernia’s women of faith. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
32. New S$1.6 million hospital opened. (1961, March 5). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
33. Mount Alvernia Hospital 1961–1986: 25th anniversary. (1986). Singapore: The Hospital, p. 16. (Call no.: RSING 362.11095957 MOU)
34. Lee opens new $2 mil Mt Alvernia hospital wing. (1971, September 22). The Straits Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
35. UK group hired to run Mount Alvernia hospital. (1990, September 21). The Straits Times, p. 25. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
36. Pereira, B. (1993, April 13). Hospices will reduce pressure on hospitals: Cheow Tong. The Straits Times, p. 23. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
37. Koh, B. S. (1995, August 22). Doctors snap up clinics at Mount Alvernia hospital. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
38. Hospital eyes tourist dollar. (2004, August 20). Today, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
39. Tay, S. C. (2010, April 17). Suite life at AlverniaThe Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2011 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.
 

Subject
Hospitals--Singapore
Public buildings
Arts>>Architecture>>Public and commercial buildings
Architecture and Landscape>>Building Types>>Public Buildings
Health and medicine>>Health services