Abu Dhabi // Work finally started on a new maternity hospital last week after a six-month delay in which the plans had to be scaled back to satisfy the building authorities. However, developers of the Danat Al Emarat Women and Children's Hospital said the hold-up had saved them money because of the changing economic climate, and that the new facility would eventually reach its planned capacity.
The original proposal for a 260-bed maternity hospital in Officers City was rejected on the grounds that at three storeys the building would have been too tall. It also fell short on safety requirements, such as an adequate number of fire extinguishers. The scheme has now been reworked, and will have 200 beds on two floors. However, UEMedical, the company behind the project, plans a second phase to take it up to its originally intended capacity, adding another 60 beds in an annexe.
Mohammed Ali al Shorafa, the chief executive, said: "We were thinking that the hospital would start construction six months ago, but because of the changes of the requirements of the authorities here, we have had to delay it. "The changes that were done were mostly with things that the patients are not going to notice, such as the firefighting system and the height of the building." But the delay has had some advantages. Mr al Shorafa said the company had saved 15 per cent of the investment cost.
"It saved us some money, to be honest with you. When the financial crisis happened, a lot of the prices went down, and they have not shot up. "When we had to redesign, we had to reduce the number of floors. The only opportunity lost was starting earlier." The company was not ready to say what service would be available in the 60-bed annex, confirming only that it would be related to women's health while not overlapping with the facilities at the hospital next door.
Mr al Shorafa said that after Eid the company would be launching its HealthPlus women's centre. "Rather than developing multi-speciality centres, we wanted to have a single set-up dedicated to women's health." That would be followed by a fertility and genetics centre in November and a dental centre early next year. The hospital is planned to open on November 11, 2011. The total budget for the project is Dh550 million (US$150m).