The "boutique" charm of Alexandra Hospital, Singapore
I had to spend quite a bit of time in Alexandra Hospital Singapore recently, and came away impressed.
It struck me that Alexandra Hospital is the equivalent of something I wrote about recently, a boutique hotel. Like the best boutique hotels, it beguiles, and charms. With its smallish scale and lush gardens, it's not what you'd generally expect from what is essentially an acute care general hospital.
Built in the 1930s, 21st-century medical facilities
Alexandra Hospital has a long history, having been established in the late 1930s to serve the British military. In 1971, the hospital was handed over the government of Singapore and renamed Alexandra Hospital. Its facilities and services were extensively updated and improved when the hospital came under new management in 2000.
The modernisation of Alexandra Hospital in the early part of this decade has made it somewhat of a gem among hospitals here - blending as it does the best of old and new.
The present-day hospital retains many of the buildings built before World War II. Where more recently built hospitals -- with their towering blocks and closed feel -- may give you the feeling of faceless efficiency; the low colonial style structures at Alexandra Hospital give it a decidedly genteel air (just one of the reasons why I associate the hospital with "boutique"). Alexandra Hospital differs from other newer hospitals in much the same way that large chain hotels differ from boutique hotels -- with the former, you get uniformity of facilities and service; with the latter you're invigorated by a sense of everything happening on a smaller, more human, more individual scale.
Style And Design Inspired by Nature
One thing you can't help but notice when you visit Alexandra Hospital is the consistent implementation of the theme of nature, adding decor style to the hospital.
Framed pictures of many different kinds of flowers line walls and even the doors of lifts, providing touches of colour to the otherwise neutral colours of hospital corridors and rooms.
Even the public restrooms are inviting. They integrate surrounding outdoor areas through the use of low walls, screens made of natural materials and lots of plants (an idea the hospital credits to the Singapore Zoo).
If you can afford a stay in the Class A wards, many of the "single" one-bedded rooms on the ground floor provide views of trees, greens and flowers from your window, making it feel almost like staying at a resort ( if you discount having to sleep on a utilitarian hospital bed, and having to deal with your illness)
"BOTANICAL GARDEN" in a hospital
Not for this hospital the modern minimalist, sculpted look that's all the rage in garden design these days. The gardens at Alexandra Hospital boast shady mature trees adorned with climbing creepers and ferns, exuberant flowers, squirrel, butterflies, etc. Five hundred plant, 100 butterfly and 60 bird species can be found in the gardens. A veritable tropical botanical garden right at the hospital. Imagine that.
The care taken on the gardens reflect the hospital's understanding that " just by looking at trees and plants, you can reduce stress level, ease muscle tension and lower blood pressure." I can't speak for everyone, but it certainly worked for me. It was refreshing to be able to be able to step outside to the gardens for a few minutes after a day of accompanying my mother in the wards. And I know that my mother was much cheered by the sight of greenery outside her window.
For more about the gardens, and more pictures, check out these blogs:
- Alexandra Hospital’s Garden « Gardening with Wilson
This blogger talks about the gardens at Alexandra Hospital, with lots of pictures.
- Photographing Butterflies at Alexandra Hospital
Pictures of the butterflies found in the hospital gardens
What about the quality of care?
I have purposely left this till last because quality medical care must be a given for any hospital. I can't speak for everyone, but we found the medical facilities and care in this hospital to be generally excellent (although this may have something to do with having chosen to stay in a Class A ward).
And in my opinion what separates this particular hospital from the others is the individuality and charm of its buildings, decor and surroundings that makes staying in a hospital much more comfortable and much less stressful for patients, family and visitors.