St. Andrew's Mission Hospital

St. Andrew


St. Andrew's Mission Hospital, one of Singapore's first maternity and paediatric centres, started off as a clinic in a shophouse at Bencoolen Street in October 1913. It was set up by Dr. C. E. Ferguson-Davie, the wife of the first Anglican Bishop of Singapore, under the wings of the Anglican Church.

Early history

St. Andrew's Medical Dispensary, the genesis of the Mission Hospital, was founded by Dr. C. E Ferguson-Davie, wife of the first Anglican Bishop of Singapore, Reverend C. J. Ferguson-Davis. It was officially opened on 18 October 1913 by Lady Evelyn Young, the wife of the Governor of the Straits Settlements. Located in a shophouse along Bencoolen Street, the dispensary, served countless women and children, especially the poor. Dr. Davie, its resident doctor, had served in India as a medical missionary before arriving in Singapore. Moved by the plight of poor women and children in Singapore, she began the dispensary. The clinic was so well received that by 1915, two more similar clinics were set up to serve the needy. One opened in 1914 along Upper Cross Street, and the other in 1915 at Pasir Panjang. In 1915, the clinic in Upper Cross Street introduced in-patient facilities and was equipped with 8 beds. In 1916, this clinic was also used to house blind, handicapped and orphaned children. However, in 1917 this clinic was closed and its operations moved to 144 North Bridge Road, where it offered only outpatient facilities. Its blind, orphaned and handicapped inmates were moved to a building on River Valley Road.

The early 1900s proved to be a challenging time for the clinic. Infant mortality rate was high and the community had to be educated about hygiene. Dr. Davie saw the need for a bigger premise as the treatment sought at the clinic had outgrown the clinic's facilities. There was a need to expand the clinic to a full-fledged hospital. A building committee was formed in 1918, and in 1920 a site along Erskine Road was obtained from the government on a 50-year lease. In August 1922, the foundation stone for the hospital building was laid, and on 22 May 1923, the hospital, named St. Andrew's Mission Hospital, was opened, occupying two floors and providing 60 beds. With the opening of the new hospital, St. Andrew's Medical Dispensary was closed. Dr. Davie introduced a new 3-year study program, "General Nursing and Midwifery", to train the locals. As a pioneer in this field, the Mission Hospital became more established than its government-run counterparts. In 1923, the hospital set up a Honorary Clinical Consultant Scheme and established the first Board of Management and an Executive Committee. In 1924, Dr. Davie added a centre for venereal disease, an eye clinic and an ante natal clinic to the hospital. Dr. Davie retired in 1927. In 1934, St. Andrew's Mission Hospital was established as a corporation under Ordinance 42, and the St. Andrew's Mission Hospital Act was passed in 28 December 1934.

In 1939, the Mission Hospital established another hospital called the St. Andrew's Orthopaedic Hospital in Siglap, the first hospital of its kind in the east. It served children with TB of the bones and joints.

In 1941, both hospitals at Erskine and Siglap were closed during the war and patients were sent to government hospitals. But St Andrew's Mission Hospital was reopened to care for wartime diseases, staffed by trained Chinese doctors and nurses.

In 1948, the Mission Hospital acquired a building at the junction of Tanjong Pagar Road and Hoe Ching Road. Incidentally, this building was used by the Japanese during WWII as their naval kempeitai headquarters. In 1949, the Mission's hospital at Tanjong Pagar was officially opened. The hospital's out-patient and in-patient services were in very great demand in the 1950s. The hospital also offered specialist services and surgical procedures. The 1970s saw a drop in these demands as the government had stepped up its housing, education and medical developments leading to improved general standard of health. From 1982 onwards, the St. Andrew's Mission Hospital focused on providing out-patient services. It is currently known as the St. Andrew's Mission Hospital Clinic.

After the war, in 1946, St. Andrew's Orthopaedic Hospital was re-opened in Siglap. Due to constraints in recruiting staff, the hospital had to agree to a joint administration of the hospital with the government. Subsequently, this hospital came to be known as the St. Andrew's Hospital. Declining demands for treatments due to tremendous health improvements over the years resulted in the under-utilisation of the building at Siglap, and by 1988, the hospital ceased operation.

In 1992, after the government returned the Siglap premises to the Mission Hospital, the St. Andrew's Community Hospital commenced operation. The services offered include rehabilitative care, convalescent care and respite care. In 2002, a new 250 bed hospital in Simei was proposed to replace the 60-bed hospital at Siglap. Equipped with a whole range of medical facilities, it will also be used as an after-care facility by the Changi General hospital. The St. Andrew's Mission Hospital, being a voluntary organisation, relies heavily on donations and volunteers who work as staff. The giving parties included corporations like Overseas Union Bank (OUB) through their Big Hearts and Little Ones credit card scheme, and individuals like the late Meyer Ezra Isaac who donated S$28 million in September 1995. Apart from individual and corporate donors, the hospital also receives money from charity fairs and drives.

1913 : A dispensary is established at Bencoolen Street by Dr. C. E. Ferguson Davie.
1914 : A second dispensary is opened at Upper Cross Street.
1915 : Third clinic set up at Pasir Panjang.
1916 : First hospital in Singapore to introduce training in nursing and midwifery.
1917 : Clinic at Upper Cross Street closed.
1923 : New 60-bed hospital constructed at Erskine Road. Bencoolen Street dispensary relocated to Erskine Road. The hospital is named as St. Andrew's Mission Hospital.
1923 : A 3-year General Nursing and Midwifery Course is introduced.
1927 : Dr. Davie retires.
1939 : A new St. Andrew's Orthopaedic Hospital established on Elliot Road, Siglap.
1941 : World War II results in closure of hospitals at Siglap and Erskine Road.
1946 : St. Andrew's Mission Hospital and St. Andrew's Orthopaedic Hospital opened after the war ended.
1949 : A 3-year certificate course in nursing introduced.
1970-1980 : St. Andrew's Orthopaedic Hospital is closed due to low occupancy levels.
1991 : St. Andrew's Community Hospital Commissioning Secretariat is established.
1992 : the St. Andrew's Community Hospital at Elliot Road was officially opened by the then Minister for Health, Mr Yeo Cheow Tong.
2002 : New 250-bed hospital to be built in Simei.

St. Andrew's Mission Hospital. St. Andrew's Community Hospital.1 Elliot Road, Singapore 458686.

Naidu Ratnala Thulaja & Nor-Afidah A Rahman


National Heritage Board. (2002). Singapore's 100 Historic Places (p .115) . Singapore: Archipelago Press.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN)

St. Andrew's Mission Hospital. (1996).
St. Andrew's Mission Hospital annual report (p. 4). Singapore: Author.
(Call no.: RSING 362.11095957 SAHAR)

Chan, K. S. (2001, April 9).
Volatile mix in Tanjong Pagar. The Straits Times, Life!, p. 8. 

Ho, D. (1998, December 14).
When using a card is an act of charity. The Straits Times, Home, p. 21.

Lim, A. (1996, November 28). New Changi Hospital will be health-care hub for eastern S'pore.
The Straits Times, p .3. 

Sata to open a fourth clinic and computerise operations
. (1997, September 9). The Straits Times, Home, p. 40.

Tan, H. Y. (1996, April 30).
S'pore Jewish millionaire left $ 28m to charity. The Straits Times, p .3.

There is still time to buy and share
. (1998, November 2). The Straits Times, Life!, p. 6.

250-bed aftercare hospital for Changi
. (2000, June 18). The Straits Times, p. 29.

St. Andrew's Mission Hospital. (n.d.).Retrieved September 17, 2003 from 

The information in this article is valid as at 2003 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.

Health and medicine>>Health services
Architecture and Landscape>>Building Types>>Commercial Buildings
Arts>>Architecture>>Public and commercial buildings

All Rights Reserved. National Library Board Singapore 2004.