x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Northern Emirates feel the benefits of world-class hospital’s many services

Maternal and neonatal services are a particular focus at Umm Al Quwain's new Sheikh Khalifa General Hospital.

Dr Abdul Al Zarooni at the Sheikh General Khalifa Hospital in Umm Al Quwain. He said the urology department, which he leads, will be another area of excellence in health care. “We are helping our people by providing world-class services next door to their houses,” he said. Antonie Robertson / The National
Dr Abdul Al Zarooni at the Sheikh General Khalifa Hospital in Umm Al Quwain. He said the urology department, which he leads, will be another area of excellence in health care. “We are helping our people by providing world-class services next door to their houses,” he said. Antonie Robertson / The National

UMM AL QUWAIN // A Dh750 million hospital is bringing world-class medical services to the Northern Emirates.

The Sheikh Khalifa General Hospital offers patients access to modern facilities, delivers top-quality care and aims to make maternal and neonatal services among the best in the country.

“Part of the Ministry of Presidential Affairs and Sheikh Khalifa’s initiative is to bring services that have not existed in the Northern Emirates and act, eventually, as a referral centre for the hospitals around here,” said Michael Arno, the hospital’s chief executive.

The facility is also changing the expectations about a Government hospital, and its quality of care mirrors that of a privately run unit.

The hospital, which took about three years to build and represents one of the biggest investments in the emirate, had its soft opening on December 2, 2012 to coincide with National Day, and launched many of its outpatient clinics, a pharmacy and dentistry clinic.

By National Day last year, when the hospital had its official opening, many other services including the maternity wing and emergency and intensive-care units were also in operation.

There is a buzz of activity at the 49,000-square-metre site, which aims to complement the existing Umm Al Quwain Hospital, and it is now overseeing the final phase of openings.

This will include making the emergency centre fully operational and completing physiotherapy and dermatology services.

The hospital had 30,869 visits for services last year, including outpatient, emergency, inpatient and dialysis visits, and that number is expected to triple this year.

The services are being introduced in phases to provide the best quality of care for the people of the emirate, said Mr Arno.

“Everyone wants everything to happen right away,” he said, “which is very difficult because people know the expectation of Sheikh Khalifa is to do everything to the best and to have an excellence and so we have to build that from scratch.

“We want to deliver services of the highest quality of care before we open it.”

Mr Arno added: “Our priority is to raise the quality of care to the people of UAQ and the Northern Emirates and to become the renowned healthcare provider in the Northern Emirates.

“Our vision evolves because as we are here we are also hearing from the community about what services they would like to see.”

These include higher-level paediatric surgery, intensive care services and maternal and child care, he said.

The hospital employs 494 people, including 209 nurses and 86 doctors and consultants. That total will expand to 990 employees by the end of this year.

To date, 65 of the 207 beds in the hospital are being used. This is set to increase to 133 by the end of the year. The hospital is operated and funded by the Ministry of Presidential Affairs and will eventually offer paediatrics, gynaecology, radiology, emergency services, dialysis, dermatology, urology and a blood bank.

Improving women’s and children’s health care is at the forefront of the hospital’s mission, said Dr George Northrop.

“We have got a very strong MRI – one of the strongest units in the Northern Emirates – and one of the best CTC scanners in the world,” he said.

“That will impact on women’s services. The MRI, for example, will be used for breast imaging,” he said, referring to breast cancer being the second biggest killer among women in the UAE. “It is a real focus.”

Diane Priestly, the hospital’s chief nursing officer who has been working in the UAE for 10 years, said it was supplying the community with “superior maternal and child care” and receiving positive feedback from the community.

Mr Arno agreed, saying: “It will end up being one of our specialities.”

Dr Abdul Al Zarooni has been at the hospital for about a year and said the urology department, which he heads, will be another flagship area.

“In the Northern Emirates there is no such urology department that can provide services like this. Before, a lot of people from the Northern Emirates had to go to Abu Dhabi and Dubai. We are now helping our people by providing world-class services next door to their houses.”

Dr Aalya Mohammed, a consultant in medicine who previously worked in Rashid Hospital in Dubai, said the hospital worked to provide the quality of care traditionally seen in private hospitals.

“You don’t normally find this level of care in Government hospitals,” she said. “They look after every detail.”

jbell@thenational.ae