New Developments


Raising the standard
of maternity care

 

Abu Dhabi healthcare investment and development company United Eastern Medical will build one of the region’s leading women’s and children’s hospitals. Callan Emery spoke the company’s CEO Mohammed Al Shorafa, MD.

Middle East Health: I understand the Danat Al Emarat project will be a flagship hospital for women and children. Can you please give me a bit of background about the project? Why is it being built? How big is it planned to be?

Momammed Al Shorofa: United Eastern Medical aims to establish an integrated healthcare delivery system in Abu Dhabi comprising of specialty hospitals and outpatient ambulatory centres. Danat Al Emarat Women & Children’s Hospital (DAE) is UEM’s flagship project. The new 230-bed hospital is one of the largest and most comprehensive women and children’s hospitals in the region. The hospital is designed to be at the medical forefront, with the latest technology supporting the most advanced surgical and diagnostic procedures. Ground is set to be broken early this year with the hospital due for completion in 2011. The 17-story facility will be the first planned all-digital hospital in Abu Dhabi and will feature: medical/surgical services; maternity services including a labour evaluation unit, a high-risk pregnancy unit for expectant mothers needing hospitalisation, labour/delivery/ recovery rooms, a Special Care Nursery and a mother/baby unit; inpatient and outpatient surgical suites; a 24-hour emergency department; and adult, paediatric and neonatal intensive care units.

Additional facilities will also include primary care and specialty clinics, a fully integrated advanced imaging and diagnostics centre and a signature spa & wellness institute that integrates medical science with fitness and education programs. Premium hotel-like services and amenities will also be available, including a selection of culinary experiences at a number of Food & Beverage outlets.

MEH: Is there a demand for hospitals of this kind in Abu Dhabi?

MAS:
High population growth rates, mandatory health insurance and health risks unique to the population of the UAE have resulted in a substantial increase in demand for healthcare services and have put the existing healthcare facilities under immense strain. Currently there are more than 27,000 deliveries in Abu Dhabi alone of which a substantial number occur in the public sector. Recent studies indicate a substantial shortage in the number of hospital beds for maternity services in Abu Dhabi. There is also a huge shortage in neonatal intensive care units with existing services operating at full capacity. DAE will cater to a large segment of the market and will set a new standard for patient care delivery by promoting medical excellence, innovation, and an unparalleled level of customer service. There are also no facilities currently offering the comprehensive range of women’s health services.

MEH:
Why specifically for woman and children? Normally a hospital will specialise in paediatrics, but not paediatrics and women’s health?

MAS: There is a very strong link between paediatrics and women’s health and we wish to provide continuity, to provide sophisticated care for women and their children when they are born. The current trend is to move towards more specialised hospitals as this allows for more advanced technology to be utilised, intensive research, etc. To have such high levels of patient-centred care, there needs to be a certain degree of specialisation – Danat Al Emarat aims to become a referred centre of excellence for high-risk pregnancies.

MEH:
Is the current financial crisis delaying the project at all?

MAS:
No, one of the only sectors that have not been affected by the crisis is healthcare and we do not foresee any financial problems for the project in the future, especially as it is located in Abu Dhabi. The 100% health insurance coverage in the Emirate adds value to the financial backing of the project. The market is underserved due to private health insurance creating much strain on the existing healthcare infrastructure with needs for hospital beds increasing, which is further augmented by population growth.

MEH:
I understand you are positioning this hospital in the upper end luxury market. Why are you aiming at this market?

MAS:
Birth is a wonderful event and we would like everyone to be able to celebrate it according to their personal preferences and needs. Our diagnostic and treatment services (including outpatient clinics, imaging, surgical suites, etc.) will be accessible to everyone in Abu Dhabi. We will also provide a full range of premium hotel-like services and amenities including lavish royal suites with private nursing and butler services, a signature spa and wellness center, etc. for those who wish to take advantage of such services.

MEH:
Will you be signing with any health insurance companies (if so who?) so patients can have their expenses covered by medical insurance?

MAS:
We will be signing with most of the major insurance companies including market leaders Daman, but it is premature to do so at this stage.

MEH:
Can you tell me about the internal workings of the hospital? What medical specialties will it have? What departments?

MAS:
There will be a variety of specialities and departments.

Outpatient facilities in the form of the Women and Children’s Health Centre will offer paediatric services and the full breadth of Obstetrical and Gynaecological services – including Maternal-Foetal Medicine, Fertility and Advanced Reproductive Medicine and Urogynecology.

The Specialty Centre will provide the latest clinical services in a comprehensive range of fields including cardiology, endocrinology, ENT, Opthalmology and Orthopaedics, amongst others.

The Birthing Centre will create a safe, reassuring, stressfree environment in which women and their families can experience the great gift of life.

The Labour/Delivery/ Recovery Rooms (LDRs) will provide the highest level of comfort as the mother progresses through the different stages of birth in a single adaptive room. Should there be any unforeseen complications during delivery, the mother will be able to be transferred to one of the fully equipped C-section suites adjacent to the LDRs. A team of highly specialised and dedicated perinatologists and neonatologists combined with Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) will help to care for even the most fragile infants.

The Advanced Imaging Centre will use the latest technology to provide fast and efficient services for radiography, ultra-sound imaging, magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography among others, whilst ensuring the ultimate comfort of its patients.

The Women’s Diagnostic & Breast Centre will concentrate on the early detection and diagnosis of breast cancer, offering advanced imaging services, including digital mammography, genetics testing and breast MRI.

The hospital will also work on improving the long-term health of women and children by promoting community health awareness and education, as well as screening, prevention and early detection programmes.

MEH:
There is a shortage of medical personnel around the world. Do you foresee any challenges ahead when it comes to staffing the hospital? From where do you plan to recruit doctors and nurses?

MAS:
Due to the shortage of healthcare staff in the UAE we will have to consider the global job market for future hires. Of course health care professionals will always be attracted to work in facilities offering high quality patient care and safety, and where there will be an opportunity for them to use their skills as well as develop new ones. Our partnership with world renowned healthcare providers ParkwayHealth from Singapore will give us the opportunity to attract and retain high caliber staff. ParkwayHealth also have a Nurse Training institute through which they will be able to deliver highly qualified staff as well as a special education division, which will support continuous education and training initiatives at DAE.

MEH:
Presumably it will have state of the art equipment. What equipment specifically are we looking at here? Have you struck any deals with any of the big medical equipment manufacturers to equip the hospital for you – like Siemens, Philips, GE or Carestream for example?

MAS:
We are still looking into equipment at this stage and are in talks with the leading players at present and will be able to announce our partnerships once finalised. It will be important for us to develop long-term partnerships with these leading technology providers, which will help us ensure that DAE will continue to have access to the latest equipment, technologies, and system upgrades. I can say that DAE will be one of the most advanced women and children’s hospitals in the region offering state of the art medical equipment and facilities including robotic technology to support minimally invasive procedures, as well as advanced imaging and diagnostics. Something we are very excited about is the electronic networking system we will be implementing.

MEH:
Can you tell me more about this system?

MAS: Yes, DAE is in fact the first planned all-digital hospital in Abu Dhabi. From diagnostic technology to monitoring equipment to medical records, everything will integrate seamlessly into a hospital wide management information system. The end result will be enhanced patient safety, faster communication among caregivers and better quality of care.

MEH:
You mentioned your recently publicised partnership with Singaporean hospital group ParkwayHealth. Can you tell me a bit more about this? What does the partnership involve? Why did you choose Parkway? What do they have to offer? What will they do for you?

MAS:
On December 22, 2008 we officially appointed renowned Singaporean medical operators ParkwayHealth to manage DAE. Under the agreement, ParkwayHealth will provide clinical development services for DAE and will manage the hospital in accordance with the highest international standards for patient care and safety for a 10-year period. This groundbreaking agreement is unprecedented as DAE will become the first private hospital in the UAE to be managed by an international operator.

We chose to partner with ParkwayHealth because it has more than 30 years of experience in healthcare operations, ParkwayHealth has a solid and reputable portfolio of clinical management, operating 15 hospitals with over 3,600 beds across Asia. As one of Asia’s leading healthcare providers, the group also has established a comprehensive range of clinical programmes, including Women & Children, which form the pillars of the wide spectrum of medical services offered by the organisation. ParkwayHealth will provide the perfect platform for DAE to realise our vision of becoming a regional Centre of Excellence for Women’s and Children’s Health and the region’s premier hospital in this field.

The partnership will result in continuous development of clinical programmes and quality improvement initiatives to ensure international standards and best practices are properly implemented. Collaboration will also occur in the form of regular expert visits in order to asses and recommend plans to improve clinical services, mentor staff and consult on complex cases. In addition, ParkwayHealth will arrange for DAE clinicians to participate in video-conferencing and ‘observership programmes’ that will help develop close and supportive professional relationships between the teams.

MEH:
You have also signed an agreement with Cleopatra’s Spa for a spa and wellness center. What exactly will the ‘wellness’ centre offer?

MAS:
As the leading spa consultancy and development company in the region, Spa Resources International was our first choice of partner in our mission to address the regional increase in interest for integrative health services. This will be the first Spa & Wellness centre in the region, which integrates medical science with fitness and education programmes. The centre will provide a one-stop service for optimising health, appearance & well-being. The facility will offer a combination of spa treatments alongside unique health and medical programmes including medical aesthetics.


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ate of upload: 31st March 2009

                                  
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