The hospital's name is Malay for buffalo shed ( kandang = shed / pen + kerbau = buffalo ), reflecting the area's link with buffalo rearing.
While the hospital started as one catering to health care for women, mainly for gynaecology and obstetrics, it had since expanded its role.
First, the paediatrics department was added for the care of the babies after delivery, but over the years it expanded into a full paediatric service, treating younger patients for all kinds of illnesses up to teenage. An offshoot, the neonatology service, was then added. Thus the expanded role of the hospital warranted a renaming to KK Women's and Children's Hospital.
Over the recent years, the scope of care has expanded even more to provide holistic care to women and children patients. It strives to become the "Healthcare Leader for Women and Children", which has become its slogan. New departments were added to the hospital. Paediatric surgery was first added, followed by others such as colorectal surgery, psychiatry and orthopaedics for women with illnesses requiring expertise in those areas.
As a result of a restructuring exercise in the local healthcare scene, the hospital became a member of the Singapore Health Services in 2000.