SINGAPORE: The Singapore General Hospital (SGH) Burn Centre reopened on Thursday (Aug 15) after undergoing an S$6million, 15-month upgrade.

The centre now has enhanced capabilities to handle complex burn scenarios, including a new modular design that allows either side of the facility to be closed off during a mass burns incident to reduce the risk of cross-contamination between existing and new patients.

“The whole basis of this renovation was to decrease the rate of cross-contamination between patients because one of the main problems when dealing with burns patients is that they are often infected with very drug-resistant bacteria,” said Associate Professor Ong Yee Siang, head and senior consultant of the department of plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgery at SGH.

Besides a new layout design, the expanded facility now has a total of four Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds, 10 High-Dependency rooms and two operating theatres.

The High-Dependency and isolation rooms can be converted into intensive care unit wards if required, allowing for care delivery to be optimised for the condition and needs of patients.

Both operating theatres also come equipped with a climate control system to ensure optimal humidity of less than 45 per cent and temperatures between 26 and 28 degrees Celsius during skin grafting and reconstructive surgery.

“The strictly-controlled low-humidity environment prevents bacteria growth, while the warm temperature lowers patients’ risk of hypothermia due to extensive skin destruction or loss,” the hospital said in a media release.

Senior Minister of State for Health Dr Lam Pin Min said the number of patients admitted to the SGH Burn Centre has increased from 150 to 220 each year, over the last five years.

The Ministry of Health plans to revamp other hospitals, such as KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, to improve overall systems capacity for managing burns, he added.

Dr Lam was speaking at the start of the three-day 12th Asia Pacific Burn Congress held at Academia in the SGH Campus.

More than 500 local and overseas practitioners and experts from 22 countries are taking part in the three-day conference.

The Asia Pacific Burn Association also announced a new set of skin banking guidelines on Thursday at the congress to ensure common safety standards and practices for skin donor screening, recovery, processing, storage and distribution across the region. 

The rules aim to hasten the exchange of donated skin during a crisis and facilitate closer collaboration between the association’s members, which includes Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh and China, among others.

“If if there is a mass casualty incident, having help from neighbouring countries that comes expediently and of good clinical standards will be most useful for our response to such incidents,” said Dr Chong Si Jack, president of the Asia Pacific Burn Association.