Pioneer leader Wong Ah Fook, who was the first president of the hospital, signed the Kwong Wai Shiu Free Hospital Ordinance in 1911, under which the old Tan Tock Seng hospital site on Serangoon Road was leased for 99 years at an annual rent of one dollar. The first three characters of the hospital’s name refers to the three Canton prefectures – Guangzhou (Kwong-Chau), Huizhou (Wai-Chau) and Zhaoqing (Shiu-Heng).
The hospital provided free outpatient services to the public and free hospitalisation to immigrants from Canton provinces. In 1911, it included inpatient, medical and maternity services comprising of both Western and Chinese medicine. Despite the difficulties of running a free hospital, it continued operating even during World War Two by collecting the bodies of war victims and conducting funeral services. The hospital continued to expand and improve its facilities, and in 1974, it opened its doors to all patients regardless of race, religion or dialect.