Revised version was received on 23 April 2011
Dr Mohamed Tahir Ahmad Ibrahim
Mon, Apr 18, 2011 at 4:39 PM
When I was in medical school some hospitals in Singapore tended to be named after roads. There was Outram Road General Hospital (ORGH), and Thomson Road Gen Hospital (TRGH). There were also other hospitals, Tan Tock Seng Hospital (in Jalan Tan Tock Seng), and Alexandra Hospital (in Alexandra Road), and of course Kandang Kerbau Hospital. The hospital entrance is from Hampshire Road, but it is in a kerbau area for Buffalo Road is nearby. So is Kerbau Road. Our local lembu must have reminded the British of Hampshire cows.
The Singapore General Hospital (also used to be called Outram Road Gen Hospital) was known as "see pai poh" to the Chinese. It means Sepoy Plains, and the hospital area used to be the garrison for the Sepoy Soldiers of the British. There was also Outram Road Prison nearby, but it had been demolished by the time I was a student. Till today when I want to refer Chinese patients to Singapore Gen Hospital, I have to say "see pai poh". All the local Chinese, young or old will know what it is, as well as the taxi drivers of whatever race. ORGH was renamed Singapore General Hospital in 1981 when the Prime Minister (Lee Kwan Yew) officially opened the new SGH, in Outram Road. The hospital is Singapore’s oldest and largest hospital. It is located along Outram Road, and is along the central expressway. It is in the heart of a medical hub kown as Outram Campus (comprising several medical institutions including the Health Promotion Board and Health Sciences authority). Along the boundary of one side of the complex is College Road. The Ministry of Health is presently situated in a building at 16 College Road. It used to house the Medical Faculty of the University of Singapore when I was a student. At that time it felt like an ancient building (which it was). It had the old type of lifts where you had to manually open and close the lift gates. It was an imposing building with tall rounded columns and motifs over the huge front doors. Prior to this it housed the King Edward VII College of Medicine. The building was extensively renovated and revamped internally before the Ministry of Health headquarters took over the building. The external part of the building was fortunately largely preserved. The Building actually faces the Singapore General Hospital.
There might be some confusion regarding the term KE VII. The medical college used to be called KE VII College of Medicine in the old days but when I was in the University of Singapore for my basic MBBS, KE Hall was the term for the University student's quarters. The predecessor of KE Hall was the Federated Malay States Hostel built in 1916. It is a 4-storey building overlooking the Singapore General Hospital. The "Hall" tended to move wherever and whenever the University moved to a new location. Presently it is in Kent Ridge, where the University of Singapore and its medical faculty is housed.
The old KKMH where I used to work was demolished and it now has a spanking new building in the same vicinity. It is divided into two Sections, the Women's tower and the Children's called KK Women's hospital and KK Children's hospital. The KK is just that (two letters) and Kandang Kerbau is not articulated in full anymore.
Thomson Road General Hospital was later renamed Toa Payoh Hospital (to identify with a newly built satellite town it serviced). It later merged with the old Changi Hospital in Netheravon Road in Changi village, and became known as the Changi General Hospital in 1998.