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


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

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

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

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

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

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

The hospital prides itself as a pioneer in the development of Geriatric Medicine, Infectious Diseases, Rehabilitation Medicine, Respiratory Medicine and Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology. It is also a major referral centre for Geriatric Medicine, General Surgery, Emergency Medicine, Diagnostic Radiology, Gastroenterology, Otorhinolaryngology and Orthopedic surgery. In 2003, the hospital was declared the designated hospital for SARS screening and treatment by the Ministry of Health.

Location of ServicesEdit

The Hospital Complex

Completed in 1999, the complex is specially designed to provide comprehensive in-patient and out-patient services under one roof. Most services are provided in the modern complex, comprising the Hospital Block, the TTSH Medical Centre and the Podium Block. On average, specialist clinics receive 1,500 patients daily, while the Emergency Department attends to a daily 400, making it Singapore's busiest emergency department.

Communicable Disease Centre (CDC)

The Communicable Disease Centre is the national referral centre for the diagnosis and management of communicable diseases that include HIV and SARS. The CDC is made up of 2 campuses, equipped with in-patient and out-patient facilities to handle disease outbreak as well as laboratory facilities to conduct research for better disease management and patient care.

TTSH Rehabilitation Centre

The TTSH Rehabilitation Centre located at Ang Mo Kio-Thye Hua Kwan Hospital offers the largest in-patient rehabilitation services in Singapore. Managed by the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, it also conducts therapy programmes and out-patient rehabilitation services.

Specialist Clinics

Closer to the community, TTSH operates specialist clinics at Hougang Polyclinic and Yew Tee MRT Station.

Clinical and Allied Health ServicesEdit

Division of Ambulatory & Diagnostic Medicine

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

Division of Medicine

Division of Surgery

Clinical Support Services

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

TTSH Heritage MuseumEdit

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

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

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

The Art of Healing ProgrammeEdit

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

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

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


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


External linksEdit

Template:Singapore hospitals

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