x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Hospital with home comforts where patients are 'residents'

At first glance, this is a dream bedroom for a little girl; only the gentle whirring of a ventilator wired to the bed gives the game away that this room is not in a home, but a hospital.

AL AIN // Sunlight streams through a window and beams on a pastel-pink bed adorned with cushions. Giant, colourful flowers artfully decorate the walls and a soft, pink rug covers the marble floor.

At first glance, this is a dream bedroom for a little girl; only the gentle whirring of a ventilator wired to the bed gives the game away that this room is not in a home, but a hospital.

It is a room among many in long-term care provider ProVita's new 50-bed facility in Al Ain's Al Foah district, which will open early next month and which is striving to provide a homely feel for its residents.

Complementing ProVita's other site in Abu Dhabi, the new Al Ain facility will cater mainly for children, some born with degenerative disorders such as multiple sclerosis, some with congenital diseases and some who have been victims of accidents, such as car crashes, who will never fully recover.

It will provide long-term treatment for ventilator-reliant patients while affording them the luxuries of a more normal life.

For the staff here, it is their aim to make the residents (they don't like to call the children patients) feel as comfortable as possible and part of this strategy is taking them on trips to the mall, beach or zoo - trips that, to anyone else, are quite normal, but to these children, are dreams realised.

Nevene Razeq, facility manager for both the Al Ain site and the Abu Dhabi facility, in Khalifa City A, which is expanding from 36 beds to include an extra 24 intensive-care beds, said she is helping one little girl in Abu Dhabi achieve her dream of riding on the Dubai Metro.

"It might seem like a simple, everyday task but not when you are wired to a ventilator and need a team of doctors and nurses with you. But we will make it happen," she said.

It is a challenge Ms Razeq is relishing at the new Al Ain site, which looks like more of a country club than a hospital from the outside.

The site is a residential plot of four huge villas that are painted a cheerful sunflower yellow inside. They house 40 intensive-care unit bedrooms and 10 long-stay bedrooms. Family rooms, relaxation rooms, sensory rooms and an outdoor activity area all make up the plot that soon 50 people will call home.

More than 70 per cent of those residents will be Emiratis who are receiving treatment abroad, such as in the UK, the United States and Germany, because of the lack of availability of long-term care facilities in the UAE, said David Printy, the new managing director of ProVita hospitals. He believes the new facility will give many a chance to come back to their home country, where relatives can visit more often.

"The level of care we provide is the highest possible," Mr Printy said. "I think we have proven that in Abu Dhabi and we have built the trust in Emiratis and they feel comfortable they can entrust us with their loved ones and no longer do they need to be flown oversees for this long-term care."

There is a shortage of ICU beds across the Emirates and ProVita aims to alleviate that pressure on UAE hospitals, Mr Printy added.

"Here in Al Ain we have already identified patients that we believe should be assigned to us," he said.

There will be 180 staff at the Al Ain facility to look after every need of the 50 residents. Visitors can come at any time and family members can spend the night.

jbell@thenational.ae