SHARJAH // A steady stream of patients, mainly expectant mothers and women with young children, queued up for appointments at a hospital that reopened yesterday, a week after it was shut by health inspectors.
Patients from both Sharjah and Ajman expressed relief, as they lined up in the corridors, that they could meet doctors, book check-ups and get reports after the 60-bed Central Private Hospital re-opened its doors on Saturday at 9am.
They also pleaded that the facility not be closed in future without prior notice to patients.
"We were so worried when we came last week for my wife's check-up and the hospital was sealed," said M J, a sales manager who had paid Dh1,900 in advance fees for the expected delivery of the couple's baby in April.
"My wife needed a routine check-up but what of people who required treatment on the spot? Patients' needs should be thought of first," he said. "Before closure, the hospital should be permitted to hand over our records and pay us a refund and even suggest where we can go instead. It has been very unsettling and troubling."
Others said the hospital could do with better equipment.
"The staff are great, the doctors are good and the nurses are accommodating but the machines are old so if these are changed it will be good for everyone," said a father to-be who works as a designer.
The hospital was shut down on January 26 after inspectors found inadequate equipment and insufficient staff.
The Ministry of Health gave the hospital the go-ahead to reopen after an assurance that more doctors and nurses would be hired and new medical equipment bought. Ministry officials said patient safety was a priority.
Hospital administrators said they could not provide details on remedial measures taken.
"All I can say is that we have started today and our patients are here already," said an official, who did not want to be identified.
"They trust us and that's why the hospital is full. We are bound to give them good service and care."
Most patients waited in the Outpatient Department, nurses led children to paediatricians and others dropped in to check if the hospital had opened.
"We were under a lot of tension because my sister-in-law is due to deliver on March 9," said Jamila, an Indian who lives in Ajman and had accompanied her pregnant relative, Azra, to the hospital.
"Where would we go? We already paid partly for her delivery package and we didn't have her reports. Also many relatives have been treated here. My mother-in-law was operated here for a leg injury, and two sisters-in-law delivered here."
Asar Abdullah, a Sudanese who works at Sharjah University and whose wife is three months pregnant, was among those to check if the hospital was operational.
"I'm very relieved and my wife will be too," he said.
"Psychologically it will be good for her because she has been dealing with the same doctor for a year.
"The doctors are good, so people are happy that it has reopened."
An affordable fee structure also makes the hospital popular.
"We were restless because we don't know where we can get rates we can pay," said Lena Malek, a Lebanese national who brought her mother for treatment to a swollen arm.
"Where else can you get a basic health check up within Dh300 including blood, X-ray and ECG? Most other hospitals will charge more than four times."
An emotional employee said the facility catered for thousands who could not afford treatment elsewhere.
"Where do people go if they are earning salaries of Dh4,000-5,000? Other places eat up even four months' salary very quickly."