Abu Dhabi's new dedicated cancer centre aims to cut waiting times and boost survival rates as part of an ambitious mission to become a global leader in health care innovation.
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi's sprawling oncology centre - which is due to open next year - will boast 24 exam rooms, 24 infusion rooms, two procedure rooms, and an area devoted to specialised women’s services set across ten floors and 19,000 square-metres.
The cutting-edge facility is key to plans to transform Cleveland Clinic into the best health centre in the region.
Doctors will have a centralised multidisciplinary centre at their disposal, providing radiotherapy services, helping them to treat patients faster and more efficiently.
Currently, patients in the capital have to travel to Al Ain's Tawam Hospital to receive crucial radiotherapy treatment.
While technology is central to the bold vision, it is driven by a desire to support cancer patients throughout their journey, helping to reduce anxiety and improve their general health along the way.
Putting patients first
“We did a lot of work in Cleveland looking at what the greatest time of anxiety for a cancer patient is. And it turns out, it's between that time where they're first diagnosed,” said Dr Stephen Grobmyer, chairman of the clinic's Oncology Institute.
“And there's a fear that sets in until they actually land in a place where they feel comfortable and that they are in an environment of people that are going to take care of them.
"And importantly, they can reassure them and give them an outline of what's going to happen to them. Because when people don't know what's going to happen, or what to expect then that sort of multiplies their fears.
“We've also learned that long delays in care in some cancers can actually be detrimental to a patient's long term outcome. So there are many reasons to want to focus on this. Another thing I want to emphasise is, this doesn't become a mad rush to treat the patient as fast as possible, it’s more about being reassuring and being efficient, and making sure that everything is done properly, as efficiently as possible.”
The purpose-built facility is modelled on Cleveland Clinic’s Taussig Cancer Centre in the United States.
“One of the unique things we have in this building that I think will not only be unique in this part of the world, but in the world altogether is we're going to have a centre for healthier living," said Dr Grobmyer.
"And there's a lot of growing evidence about the importance of lifestyle. By that I mean diet, exercise psychology, on what we call cancer related outcomes.”
Potential is 'limitless'
Staff in Abu Dhabi will have a direct line to colleagues in the United States in an effort to share knowledge and expertise and improve patient care.
The centre will feature electronically-linked tumour board rooms - meeting places for doctors to exchange views and ideas - where they can discuss cases with the US campus.
Cleveland Clinic also plans to tap into the deep reservoirs of medical and scientific knowledge already in place in the capital.
It is part of a forward-thinking approach set up to ensure no stone is left unturned in the quest to win the fight against cancer.
“My hopes for the cancer centre are to bring innovation here that currently doesn't exist and then we can bring in the not too distant future innovation here that can be used for the rest of the world,” said Dr Grobmyer.
“And I think with leveraging a lot of the strength of relationships in this country with programmes like the Emirati Genome Project and the Abu Dhabi Stem Cells Centre, we're in an ideal position.
“All of us come to work every day wanting to help patients, but we also want to make things better. One of the reasons I came here was because I thought this is an ideal environment to do that. And with all the opportunities we have here, and the great people that we're bringing here, our relationship with Cleveland Clinic, the support we have from Mubadala, our potential here is limitless.”
Doctors are hopeful the cancer centre will serve not only patients across the UAE, but people all over the world.
Dr Wesam Ahmed, chairmen of the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology, said the goal is to provide the best care in the region.
“We have a good number international patients flying from other countries just to come here. People come from everywhere for tourism, but now we expect that they will for medical care as well," he said.
"So the fact that we have this level of health care here in the UAE is amazing and that we have many patients who fly here just to get here, to Cleveland Clinic. We have all the tools and potential here to make Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, the best health care system in the Middle East.”