US CLINIC TO JOINTLY RUN NEW ABU DHABI HOSPITAL
▶ Mayo Clinic counts US presidents and Arab royalty among its patients
America’s top-ranked medical group will jointly operate Abu Dhabi’s new mega hospital.
The renowned Mayo Clinic will run Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City in tandem with the capital’s public hospital operator Seha.
It is the first Middle East venture from the Minnesota-based institution that counts US presidents, royalty and Pulitzer Prize-winning authors among its patients.
SSMC, in Al Mafraq, began accepting patients this month and will fully open in January.
Officials yesterday did not reveal any details of the financial breakdown of the arrangement, but did say that patients will have access to the top surgeons of the Mayo Clinic – some of whom will work at SSMC.
“Our first goal is to take care of people from Abu Dhabi,” said Anton Decker, international president for Mayo Clinic. “Then we will develop this into a facility to attract patients from all over the world.”
Mayo Clinic is known for its pioneering treatments. Over the next few months, doctors, surgeons and clerical staff from the US will begin working at the hospital.
It also intends to introduce some of the most advanced methods to tackle conditions such as cancer. These include proton beam treatment – an advanced form of radiotherapy.
“To become an international destination, there are pieces we want to add,” said William Stone, vice dean of clinical practice at Mayo Clinic.
“Things such as bone marrow transplant. Also proton beam therapy and large particle therapy for cancer. There are a host of things not present here that we hope to bring in the future.”
SSMC has about 700 beds, 18 operating rooms, four wings and a surgical robot.
It opened quietly a few weeks ago but by the time it is fully operational in January, the hospital hopes to have at least 4,000 staff and treat up to 3,000 outpatients a day.
It is famous for the high levels of care afforded to patients. Previous patients have included former US presidents John F Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, King Hussein of Jordan, author Ernest Hemingway and lead guitarist for The Beatles, George Harrison.
Sheikh Abdulla bin Mohammed Al Hamed, Chairman of the Department of Health Abu Dhabi, said the nation’s “wise leadership set in motion a vision to deliver world-class health care for the people of the Emirates”.
This meant significant investment over the years, he said. “Investments like this are establishing Abu Dhabi as a global destination for health care, in line with the Department of Health’s vision to bring the world’s standards in health care to Abu Dhabi.”
While Mayo was not involved in the construction of SSMC, some of this ethos is expected in Abu Dhabi.
“Over the course of time there will be changes to meet our needs and patient needs,” Mr Stone said.
“Those are the kinds of things we would anticipate patients to experience. We are very excited.”
SSMC’s four towers will house children and maternity, surgical specialities, medical specialities, and burn and critical care.
The multibillion-dollar hospital has been in the works for almost a decade and towers
over the surrounding low-rise buildings. A picture of the President, Sheikh Khalifa, looking over initial plans in 2011 hangs in the reception. The 30,000-square-metre centre replaces the adjacent Mafraq Hospital and it is hoped the joint venture will encourage more Emiratis to have medical treatment in the UAE.
In September, Saeed Al Kuwaiti, head of SSMC’s operation committee, said what makes the hospital different is that it covers many specialities.
“The best advantage is the location, which is on two major motorways between Abu
Dhabi, Al Ain, Dubai and Al Dhafra, making it the ideal location for trauma patients,” Mr Al Kuwaiti said.
“We will be accepting all patients, regardless of their insurance. The government has invested a lot in SSMC and we are confident of the quality of services we will be offering patients.”
The process between Mayo and SSMC, meanwhile, has been going on for the past few months, but the real work is only now starting.
“It will take us a few years,” Mr Stone said. “But the foundation they built here is incredible. We will be building it together and it is a very exciting future.”