New era for one of Dubai's oldest hospitals

A multimillion-dirham makeover for Dubai Hospital offers glimpse into future of health care

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One of Dubai’s oldest hospitals has had a multimillion-dirham makeover to improve patient services and speed up their journey through the facility.

Major improvements have been made at Dubai Hospital during the pandemic, which placed a huge pressure on hospital services.

Since 1983, the facility in Deira has served as the main government hospital for Dubai and much of the Northern Emirates

The hospital had embarked on a major renovation months before the onset of the pandemic.

Covid gave us an opportunity to redesign parts of the hospital and bring in others services we had wished for to improve patient flow
Dr Jamal Al Saleh, Dubai Hospital Chief Medical Officer

The timing could not have been worse, with reduced capacity in its accident and emergency ward and other areas undergoing extensive work at a time when services were most needed.

“Work was done in three phases, with only half the work completed at the onset of the pandemic so it was a difficult time,” said Dr Mariam Al Raisi, the hospital’s chief executive.

“We had to launch plan B [for] how to make patients safe in the hospitals and separate Covid and non-Covid areas.

An expanded and improved onsite laboratory give doctors fast information on tests to speed up patient care.

“The emergency area and surgical [intensive care] wards were critical during Covid so it was important that work was prioritised.”

Surgical intensive care unit beds expanded from nine to 13, while another unit was converted to a temporary Covid ICU ward while the improvements were completed.

Negative pressure rooms — critical during the pandemic to isolate Covid patients — expanded from 20 to 199.

A dashboard now alerts staff to how long patients have been waiting — with a four-hour benchmark for triaging and treating patients after arriving at the hospital.

There has also been a transition towards having fewer patients on open wards and more private rooms to cut the risk of infection.

VIP wards for men and women were completely renovated and laboratory testing was improved during the pandemic to keep all analysis on site.

An ophthalmology clinic was also renovated and a new multistorey car park for 900 cars was completed.

“Covid gave us an opportunity to redesign parts of the hospital and bring in others services we had wished for to improve patient flow,” said Dr Jamal Al Saleh, the hospital's chief medical officer.

“The existing building was improved and we also increased capacity.

“Poor parking was delaying people for their appointments, so it was a simple solution that improved the hospital.

“We looked at the patient journey through the hospital and found ways to make it more efficient.

“Before Covid, there was a 30-day waiting time for an appointment, on average, but with the fast track, we have got that down to 19 days.”

Nuclear medicine and psychology services are other more recent additions, while a hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber to help surgical patients recover will open soon.

But it is the work to expand capacity and new fast-track clinics for those being treated for breast cancer that will affect most of the roughly 20,000 annual patients the hospital receives.

Dubai Hospital provides services for both outpatient and inpatient procedures in 26 medical and surgical specialities, with a total bed capacity of 627.

In 2021, the total number of admissions reached 19,813, with 65,551 emergency cases.

Surgeons performed 7,945 procedures last year, with many cardiac patients requiring a stay in intensive care to recover.

Naheed Iqbal, critical care registrar at Dubai Hospital, manages the hospital’s surgical ICU.

“It has been an easing out for us, as we were so busy during Covid, working 18-hour shifts and almost overwhelmed with patients,” said Ms Iqbal.

“During Ramadan in 2020, we worked throughout dressed in full PPE while fasting, so it was a tough.

“I had seven patients in on the weekend, most for post cardiac surgery, so it was very different.

“Now we have just a couple of patients in, it hasn’t been this quiet for three years.”

Updated: March 29, 2022, 3:17 AM