x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Maternity hospital planned

A new Dh750-million specialist hospital is expected to bridge the gap between maternity and paediatric health care services.

Mohammed Ali Al Shorafa, managing director and chief executive of UEMedical at the unveiling of the flagship project,
Mohammed Ali Al Shorafa, managing director and chief executive of UEMedical at the unveiling of the flagship project,

ABU DHABI // A new Dh750-million (US$204m) specialist hospital is expected to bridge the gap between maternity and paediatric health care services. Hospital bosses say the 300-bed Danat Al Emarat hospital will be completed in 2011. The hospital, being built by United Eastern Medical Services (UEMedical), would be one of the most luxurious in Abu Dhabi, with 15 VIP suites, spa facilities, an electronic medical record system, state-of-the-art technology and hundreds of staff.

Mohammed al Shorafa, the chief executive of UEMedical, said the hospital would raise the bar in terms of quality of care. "There was a clear gap and we feel we are trying to close it," he said. "There are 1.7m people with private health insurance and this has created tremendous stress on the existing health system. "Our role is to identify these gaps and provide services that will meet these needs."

Mr Shorafa said the company hoped the 21-storey hospital, designed by American architectural firm HKS, would become a regional centre of excellence for high-risk pregnancies. There are plans for labour, delivery and recovery rooms and a neonatal intensive care unit to care for babies born very prematurely, who are critically ill or need surgery. The hospital's outpatient facilities will offer a full range of obstetrical and gynaecological services.

Patient rooms will include hotel-like features such as internet, video-on-demand, video games for children and "luxurious furnishings and fittings". The hospital will be staffed by more than 500 doctors and nurses who will be recruited from all over the world and housed in new accommodation located by the hospital in downtown Abu Dhabi, near the Maqta Bridge. The facility will also have a diagnostic and breast cancer centre where women can receive mammograms, genetic testing and breast MRIs.

"We want to set a new standard," said Mr Shorafa. "It is a much more patient-centred approach. When we started looking at this project we consulted focus groups. We always had to have the involvement of women and mothers. "We need to engage the patient and understand what they want. Even the architects needed to know what mothers want, in terms of how involved they wanted their families to be if they were giving birth."

Mr Shorafa said they had not yet begun discussions with insurance companies but wanted their services to be accessible to almost everyone. Like many other hospitals in the UAE, Danat Al Emarat will be affiliated with an international company but officials declined to name it immediately. Abu Dhabi has just a few hospitals offering maternity services. The Corniche Hospital, a dedicated maternity hospital, has been struggling to cope with its heavy patient load.

Mr Shorafa, who began his career at the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and later worked for the Far East Equity Department, said he had high hopes for the health care market, especially in light of the recent call by the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD) for the private sector to play a bigger part in health services. "When the company was created this was one single project," he said. "And when the health authority came up with their new strategy, we started to look at our strategy from that perspective.

"They are trying to encourage the private sector to invest and develop the health care system. There are not a lot of private health care companies." The company's goals are long-term: there are plans to create a network of facilities including primary care clinics that would act as satellite centres for the bigger facilities. Under the umbrella of Healthway Medical Centres, they will also create specialist clinics covering specific areas such as dentistry.

UEMedical also has plans to build a specialist orthopaedic hospital and a 60-bed facility that would be dedicated to caring for expatriate labourers. munderwood@thenational.ae