▶ Mayo Clinic counts US pres­i­dents and Arab roy­alty among its pa­tients

The National - News - - FRONT PAGE - JOHN DENNEHY Con­tin­ued on page 8

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.”

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