As the dedicated ‘SARS Hospital’ and the original home of the Communicable Disease Centre (CDC), Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) was poised to take its place as a crucial vanguard in the battle against COVID-19.

When COVID-19 reached Singapore’s shores in January 2020, TTSH worked closely with the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID), the Ministry of Health (MOH), community partners, and the public to manage the on-going pandemic by providing critical infrastructure, manpower, and patient care. TTSH’s strong relationships with health and social partners, culture of continuous learning and innovation, as well as sustained emphasis on collective leadership, were instrumental in building a ‘Community of Care’ to help it stay resilient and on course in the battle against COVID-19.

“TTSH’s response to the pandemic is built on three key fundamentals — relationships, learning, and renewal. What really holds our plans together are the relationships we build between outbreaks, and the Collective Leadership we foster at every level of the organisation. When it comes to learning, we build Communities of Practice that allow us to implement better strategies in our outbreak response — they enable us to learn ‘as we do’ and not ‘after we do’. Last but not least is our emphasis on renewal — the ability to allow our staff to innovate, improve, and transform the way we deliver care.” Professor Eugene Fidelis Soh Deputy Group CEO (Integrated Care), NHG & CEO, Tan Tock Seng Hospital & Central Health


In March 2020, when the COVID-19 situation in Singapore escalated, TTSH Nursing proved instrumental in the scale-up of beds for COVID-19 patients at NCID. The team coordinated the effort with various departments across the hospital, and also ensured medication, linen, and food and beverage (F&B) supplies were adequate for incoming patients. In addition, over 500 nurses were deployed to NCID.

The Nursing Education team also provided support behind the scenes. It was responsible for putting together training/educational materials for various needs, including refreshers for NCID nurses on outbreak protocols, training for general ward nurses, and swab testing and PPE training for community partners. The team ensured that the training kept up with changes to workflows, in line with evolving clinical processes and policies.


TTSH, as the Integrated Care Organisation (ICO) in the Central Zone, collaborated with a network of partners, including Ren Ci Community Hospital (RCCH), Ang Mo Kio-Thye Hua Kwan Hospital (AMK-THK), and the Community Care Facility@EXPO, to provide care during the pandemic. TTSH's Medical Social Workers (MSWs) and Nursing team worked together to identify cases suitable for transfer to AMK-THK and RCCH, ensuring integrated care for patients.


The TTSH Operations Command Centre (OCC), which features the C3 (Command, Control, and Communications) Smart Hospital System, went fully operational in December 2019. Through the analysis of data from Real-Time Location System sensors and CCTV video footage, and use of artificial intelligence (AI) to predict bottlenecks, C3 provided better visibility of the outbreak response and coordination across TTSH-NCID. This included adjusting manpower distribution, ensuring critical supplies such as PPE and COVID-19 medication, optimising COVID-19 patients’ admission and discharge, and monitoring the volume and waiting times of laboratory and radiology tests at the Screening Centre. This allowed the hospital to ensure facilities were not overcrowded and safety management measures were adhered to, while maintaining support for staff in the frontlines.

The C3 Smart Hospital System is part of nation-wide efforts to leverage technology and automate hospitals to improve patient care.


TTSH worked with scientists from the A*STAR Experimental Drug Development Centre and Bioinformatics Institute to develop a diagnostic test kit for COVID-19. It comprised a pre-packed mix of reagents to test patient samples, which was later fed into a machine to analyse the results. The procedure saved time by making the screening procedure easier to administer, and allowed more laboratories in Singapore — including those with less experience working with reagents used to test for the virus — to conduct such tests well without compromising the accuracy of the results.


A psychological preparedness toolkit was put together to help staff deployed to the frontlines and their supervisors manage anxiety. It provided realistic depictions of frontline work, which would be unfamiliar to healthcare professionals from different care settings and experience.

This toolkit covered a range of topics, including tips when wearing PPE, and management of stress.


Each TTSH staff received a #HealthcareHeroes badge in recognition of his/her exceptional efforts in the fight against COVID-19. With the support of the Ministry of Culture, Community & Youth (MCCY), People’s Association (PA), and partners such as the Singapore Medical Association (SMA) and DBS Bank, the #HealthcareHeroes movement extended beyond the hospital into the community in support of all healthcare workers across different institutions.