x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

New women's hospital plugs gap in care

A Dh230 million hospital will mean expectant mothers in the Northern Emirates will no longer have to travel long distances to give birth.

The Dh230 million hospital is the first of its kind in the Northern Emirates, said Hamad Al Shamsi, the director general of the Ajman Medical Zone.
The Dh230 million hospital is the first of its kind in the Northern Emirates, said Hamad Al Shamsi, the director general of the Ajman Medical Zone.

AJMAN // Health chiefs hope the opening of a hospital this month will mean expectant mothers in the Northern Emirates will no longer be turned away because of a lack of beds or staff.

The Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Hospital's new gynaecology, obstetrics and paediatrics unit in Al Jurf has a capacity of 178 beds, with five more in intensive care and 14 in the neonatal care unit.

The Dh230 million hospital is the first of its kind in the Northern Emirates, said Hamad Al Shamsi, the director general of the Ajman Medical Zone.

"At first we had a plan but no money, but then [the President] Sheikh Khalifa gave us Dh50 million after reviewing our plan, and we started off," said Mr Al Shamsi.

"We are very grateful to Sheikh Khalifa and Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid, the Ruler of Ajman. Without them this hospital would not have seen the light of day."

A number of families in the Northern Emirates, particularly Ajman, Sharjah and Umm Al Qaiwain, said they hoped the new facility would increase the help available to expectant mothers.

Pregnant women are often forced to travel long distances to give birth because of a shortage of beds or staff at government hospitals.

Fatimah Mohammed, from Ajman, was supposed to have given birth at the new hospital at the start of last year, but delays meant she had to travel to Sharjah.

"I was supposed to give birth in the hospital last year, but there was a shortage of beds at the main hospital and I had to go all the way to Sharjah to have my baby," she said.

"When this hospital is opened many people will be spared the inconvenience of looking for a hospital to take them for delivery as the capacity is big."

Last year, UAQ Hospital, the only government hospital in the emirate and the only one with a maternity ward, was forced to close it for a week because its two gynaecologists were not available. One was on annual leave and the other on emergency leave after the death of a relative.

Women were sent to Sheikh Khalifa Hospital in Ajman. When that was filled, expectant mothers were sent to private hospitals in Sharjah and Ajman, which was expensive.

Aisha Hassan, who lives in Ajman, was one of them.

"Private hospitals are very expensive," Mrs Hassan said. "You never know how much it is going to cost as each complication adds on the expenditure. People need government hospitals like Sheikh Khalifa, at least for major things like deliveries."

The hospital will feature a separate casualty area for the gynaecology unit and another for paediatrics, a separate emergency department for women and children, an isolation room for those in a critical condition and a laboratory.

It has a main entrance and a VIP entrance, administrative offices, children's play areas and prayer halls.

The Ajman Medical Zone, in conjunction with the Ministry of Health, has recruited 200 staff, including nurses, doctors and administrators to work in the hospital.

Construction was undertaken by the Ministry of Public Works and a US company specialising in hospital designs, said Mr Al Shamsi.

ykakande@thenational.ae