Expanding to meet
Middle East Health visited
Lebanon earlier this year to look
at developments at key hospitals
in the country. We discovered
that several of the leading
hospitals have recently expanded
or have expansion plans in place
to cope with growing demand
locally and from abroad. This is a
good indicator of a robust
healthcare industry with positive
implications for the country and
the wider region. Callan Emery
Beirut is the great comeback city.
Repeatedly battered by war it never fails
to stagger back to its feet and lurch
forward like an unstoppable battle-hardened
soldier marching on undeterred by
the hail of bullets deflected off his armour. Even with its battle scars, Beirut
is beautiful in the Spring and in the cool,
crisp, clear Mediterranean air there was a
definite industriousness about the place,
with people intensely going about their
business as if in hasty preparation for a new, brighter tomorrow. A Lebanese
friend of mine who lives in the city
told me this is what it is like all the time
– “we are always preparing for a better
tomorrow,” he said. “Ironically, knowing
that it could at any moment all be
smashed again,” he added.
It is an exceptionally beautiful, but a
deceptively tough place to live. Right now
there is a wonderful sense of optimism in
the air. Residents who fled the war are
returning, war-torn buildings are being
renovated, trendy street cafes are
reopening, Beirut appears to be returning
to it former heady hay days.
This optimistic fervour is also reflected in
its healthcare, with the city’s key hospitals
all expanding to cope with growing
demand, locally and internationally, for
their services – a great indicator of the
improving health of the country in general.
We visited a number of hospitals in
Beirut and a few small medical device
businesses. Without fail, all had a positive
outlook and all had been experiencing
year-on-year growth for the past
We look at two key hospitals in the city
– the American University of Beirut
Medical Centre and Clemenceau Medical
Center – to provide an example of the
expansion that is taking place in the
healthcare industry in Lebanon.
American University of Beirut
The American University of Beirut
Medical Centre (AUBMC) is the bastion
of healthcare in Lebanon, having provided
healthcare to the Lebanese for over 100
years. The medical centre has served as a
teaching hospital to the Faculty of
Medicine at AUB, established in 1867. It
has a long history of training generations
of medical students and physicians; and its
graduates can be found at leading institutions
around the world.
Speaking to Middle East Health Dr Adnan Tahir, chief medical officer and
hospital director, explained that the
medical centre has been experiencing
exceptional growth year-on-year and it
now has to expand to cope with growing
demand for its services.
As an example, he referred to their
outpatient clinics “which have been experiencing
significant growth year-on-year.
We now have over 240,000 visits a year in
the outpatient clinics”.
This not only requires additional staff,
but also more space. To address this
demand and in an effort to sustain its position
as one of the region’s leading medical
facilities, he said that they are now looking
at a master plan to expand AUBMC with
a new tower block.
This follows the appointment in 2009 of Dr
Mohamed H. Sayegh as Dean of the Faculty
of Medicine and Vice President of Medical
Affairs, under who’s leadership this initiative
– 2020 Vision – is taking place.
Dr Sayegh has stepped into the role to
lead this transformation from an exceptional
background. He is one of the world’s
leading figures in transplantation, renal
medicine and transplantation immunobiology
research. He is also currently a
Visiting Professor of Medicine and
Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, and
is the Director of the Schuster Family
Transplantation Research Center,
Brigham and Women’s Hospital and
Children’s Hospital Boston.
“Our AUBMC 2020 Vision is to be the
leading academic medical centre in
Lebanon and the region by delivering
excellence in patient-centred care,
outstanding education and innovative
research,” said Dr Sayegh, restating
AUBMC’s long-held principles.
He explained that the main themes of the 2020 Vision are leadership, excellence,
innovation, partnerships and expansion.
The initiative envisages the institution’s
growth along six main paths, over the next
nine years. These are:
- Development and implementation of the
new AUBMC 2020 Medical Complex
- Recruitment of top-calibre, highly
specialised and accomplished faculty
- Continued focus on patient needs and
- Innovation through the creation of
clinical and research Centres of
- Commitment to the academic and
research mission of the Faculty of
Medicine and AUBMC
- Establishment of strategic partnerships
and collaborations locally, regionally
Centres of Excellence
The new AUBMC 2020 medical complex
will see the medical centre grow from a
350-bed institution to a 600-bed medical
facility. Key to this expansion, Dr Tahir explained, is the development of a
of new Centres of Excellence.
The expansion will also include new
adult and paediatric hospitals as well as an
expansion in the existing services and
Dr Tahir said the new complex will house
new ORs and clinics as well as faculty officers.
“It will be completely digital and will
streamline operations from patient admissions
to discharge.” The complex is
expected to be complete by 2020, as the
initiative’s namesake implies.
He said they want to expand their medical
tourism service. “About 10% of admissions
are foreign patients who’ve been attracted
to the hospital through word-of-mouth
and physician reputation. Currently most
of their foreign patients come from Iraq,
Syria and Saudi Arabia.
“We have set up an international
patient services section – and we want to
make it large,” he said.
Speaking to reporters earlier this year, Dr Sayegh said they had already begun their
“During the last year and a half, we have
added more than 40 new faculty
members,” he said. “The majority are
Lebanese people whom we brought back
from leading institutions in the USA and
some are from Europe.”
He explained that the renewed focus on
patient-centred care and continually
changing patient needs would require a
redefining of service excellence and the
necessity to constantly update systems
based on the needs of patients.
“In September 2010 a Patient Affairs
Team was established to ensure that the
patients’ needs and satisfaction are at the
core of what we do,” he said.
AUBMC will create new clinical and
research Centres of Excellence to meet the
medical needs of Lebanon and the region.
These will include the creation of the
Heart and Vascular Center and the
Multiple Sclerosis Center which is set to
open this year. The latter will be the first
of its kind in the region and will address
the needs of education and access to information,
given the increasing incidence of Multiple Sclerosis in the Middle East.
AUBMC is currently home to three
Centers of Excellence: The Children’s
Cancer Center of Lebanon (CCCL), affiliated
with St. Jude Children’s Research
Hospital; Abu-Haidar Neuroscience
Institute; and the Naef K. Basile Cancer
Institute (NKBCI), dedicated to the treatment
and research of adult cancers.
As part of this initiative the AUBMC
plans to strengthen and establish new
collaborations with international, regional
and national partners.
“We want to establish relationships
instead of competition with other facilities
in Beirut and the region, such as we have
with Clemenceau Medical Center in
Beirut,” Dr Tahir told Middle East Health.
He added that collaboration will enable
them to increase bed capacity among other
mutually beneficial advantages.
Dr Sayegh said: “We want to be the
institution of choice for partnership and
collaboration when medical institutions in
the region are looking for a partner in
AUBMC is able to offer partnering institutions
a strong understanding of the issues
surrounding healthcare delivery in
Lebanon and the region, the benefit of
speaking the local language, help with
capacity building, and expertise and
knowledge of performing state-of-the-art
healthcare procedures, he explained.
The medical centre already has strong
partnerships in place. Some of these
include research collaboration and
exchange with King Hussein Cancer
Center in Amman, Jordan; Clinical
collaboration with Dr Haifa Mahmoud Eye
Center in Bahrain. There is a long list of national partnerships, including
Clemenceau Medical Center in Beirut.
And internationally, it has partnerships
with Cleveland Clinic Foundation Center
for Continuing Education; George
Washington University Medical Center,
for medical student exchange; and
Harvard Medical School for research; and
University of Paris 7 for research and
exchange, among many others.
Speaking to the press recently AUB
Provost Ahmad Dallal said there are
several plans for advancement in education
at AUB’s Faculty of Medicine. These
include: curriculum restructuring to
ensure an education that leads to better
delivery of health care for patients; the
pursuit of additional international
accreditations, particularly an aggressive
plan to seek ACGME International
(Accreditation Council for Graduate
Medical Education) accreditation; efforts
to increase the diversity of the faculty’s
student base and accept more students
from outside of Lebanon.
“We are also committed to the education,
training and advancement of professionals
outside of AUB through our
Regional External Programs, and our
newly established External Medical Affairs
Office and Continuing Medical Education
Office,” he said.
Provost Dallal explained that another
main pillar of AUBMC’s 2020 Vision is to
serve as a regional hub for research initiatives.
“There is a huge gap in data specific
to populations of the Middle East and
North Africa. As a leading academic
medical centre in the region, it is our goal
to help address these needs in order to
provide more targeted care specific to our
Clemenceau Medical Center
The outstanding Clemenceau Medical
Center (CMC) was among a number of
medical facilities Middle East Health visited
in Beirut. It has already been through an
expansion process and has further expansion
About six years ago CMC moved to their
new state-of-the-art, modern, hi-tech
building. The new building has 110 beds, 5 ORs (one specific for open-heart surgery), a
theatre in maternity, a theatre in ER and a
cathlab. The theatres provide advanced laparoscopy and OR automation systems
live video teleconferencing from the theatre.
CMC is an upmarket facility and makes
use of some of the latest technology available,
including PET-CT, 64-slice CT, realtime
MRI, digital mammography and
ultrasound 3D and 4D. The facility has a
completely filmless, digital radiology environment
and a digital Hospital
The JCI-accredited hospital has been
affiliated with Johns Hopkins for the past
10 years enabling continuous medical
education of the highest order for their
doctors as well as second-opinion teleconferencing
capabilities for their patients.
It has become a respected hospital for
foreigners seeking a high standard of care
with about 30% of their patients originating from outside Lebanon, Rania El
International Office, CMC, told Middle
East Health – and this is growing between
2% and 5% a year. Most of their patients
come from the region and this is their
market focus although they have had a few
patients from the Americas and Europe.
Confirming its status in the world of
medical tourism, CMC placed in the top
10 in the world, and the was the only
hospital in the Middle East to place in the MTQUA (Medical Travel Quality
Alliance) ranking recently.
CMC offers a full concierge service for
foreign patients and their accompanying
family. Their International Patient
Services team provides a complete package
of services including air ambulance, airport
pick-up and all travel and hotel arrangements
for patients and family by multilingual
staff. They provide assistance in choosing the right doctor, scheduling of all
appointments, co-ordination of admissions
process, getting a second opinion and
follow-up remote consultations by teleconferencing,
The aim of the MTQUA is to advance
patient safety and medical excellence in
medical travel and health tourism by
encouraging, developing and promoting
professional care management for travelling
patients. According to an Alliance
spokesperson, it is committed to raising
industry standards, putting quality first and
partnering with hospitals and medical
tourism support services in the care and
management of the medical traveller.
In September last year CMC completed its
outpatient clinic extension – a building adjacent
to the medical centre. This building
houses the eye clinic, ENT clinic, dentistry,
medical & wellness facilities – essentially a
medical spa managed by physicians – dermatology
and plastic surgery, maternity specialty
clinic and a paediatric clinic.
Further extensions are taking place to the
current medical centre and are expected to
be complete in 2014. This expansion will
provide a bigger ER, a bigger OR. Oncology
will expand and offer more specialties. It is
estimated the expansion will enable them
to accommodate 50 extra beds.
Already recognised as a premier multispecialty
one-stop healthcare facility, the
expansion is set to elevate this advanced
centre to a leading position in the region.
preventive health programme
developed the Premier Executive Health Check for busy foreign
Lebanese executives who are stretched for time and who want a
health check without interfering with their tight schedule.
“It is a 24-hour inpatient check-up,” explained Rania El Rayess,
International Patient Services department. “All cardiac tests,
dental, eye and lab
tests are carried out in this time. The health check is tailored
specifically to each
executive depending on their age and health status.”
She said it is designed as a preventive health measure which
targets, reduces and
eliminates health risks through early detection.
“It is very popular,” she said. “Sometimes we have four or five
patients coming in
one day for this check-up.”
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of upload: 18th Oct 2011