A new dedicated cancer centre offering next-day appointments is bringing the best medical talent and technology to the UAE as part of a life-saving mission to transform patient care.
The Fatima bint Mubarak Centre, at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, which has a team of 150 nurses, physicians and radiologists at its disposal, officially opened its doors to the public this month.
The sprawling 19,000-square-metre facility has 32 examination rooms for multidisciplinary cancer consultation, 24 private infusion rooms for administering medications intravenously, two procedure rooms and an area devoted exclusively to women's oncology services.
It is is modelled on Cleveland Clinic’s Taussig Cancer Centre in the United States.
Expert professionals have been recruited from the US to help deliver world-class treatment in the Emirates.
Dr Stephen Grobmyer, chairman of the hospital's Oncology Institute, said the hospital receives the most complex cases in the region, offering a lifeline to the "sickest of the sick".
He said the new centre is already in high demand with patients.
“But we make it a point to start the journey as soon as we get that call – I have cancer,” Dr Grobmyer said.
“Our job from the moment they call us is to provide hope for these patients and a clear treatment path.”
Dr Grobmyer said he and his team are grateful to be tasked with the duty to help change lives.
"We come everyday as doctors to help people and we get the opportunity everyday to help people who have difficult problems and this is something that we value as doctors.
"The opportunity to help and treat some of the most difficult and complex cancer cases."
Patients can expect initial appointments with in 24 hours, removing the anxiety that comes with lengthy waiting lists.
Inside UAE's new cancer care centre
The naming of the oncology centre honours the leadership role played by Sheikha Fatima, Mother of the Nation, in the development of the UAE's healthcare sector.
The National was given a tour of the clinic, which aims to be a leading centre of excellence for cancer care in the region.
Some of the state-of-the-art medical equipment filling the wards costs millions of dollars, with some of its scanning machines found regionally only in the UAE and Qatar.
The experience for patients, often enduring some of the most challenging circumstances of their lives, is paramount.
Those requiring infusions are seated in large private rooms with a TV and two additional chairs for family to remain with them during chemotherapy or other treatments.
A chemotherapy robot is used to mix the patient’s infusion, as a way to boost safety and efficiency.
Imaging rooms are placed next to consultation rooms. This enables, for example, breast cancer patients to get their scans and see their doctor at the same time without the need to move from one floor to another and delay receiving their results.
Putting patients first
Patients were involved heavily in the design of the rooms, from choosing the most comfortable chairs to where best to place the sink.
The walls are adorned with artwork and natural light flows in through the large windows on each side of the centre.
The centre is connected to the existing Cleveland Clinic campus by an underground tunnel.
In partnership with Abu Dhabi Stem Cells Centre and the capital's AI specialists, G42, doctors are carrying out bone marrow transplants and have a genetics expert on hand to offer consultations to patients.
The centre has nine floors, each dedicated to a different form of cancer, from gynaecological services to a neurology department.
A boardroom has been set up to allow staff to brainstorm with Cleveland Clinic colleagues in Ohio.
The centre plans to host clinical trials and push forward research.
The goal is to ensure patients can receive world-class treatment on their doorstep, with no need to travel overseas.
Cleveland Clinic carried out its first bone marrow transplant, led by Dr Wesam Ahmed, department chair for haematology, medical oncology and bone marrow transplants in the Oncology Institute at Cleveland Clinic.
“Our job is to ensure that you get the same treatment here that you would get in the US," he said.
"We focus on a specific disease and get all the expertise around it and provide the best drugs for a patient. There are very rare cases where a patient would need a clinical trial that is not available here."
Dr Fady Geara, department chair for radiation oncology, said the new centre is in line with Cleveland Clinic's long-term vision.
"The whole project since CCAD was started was to bring excellence to the UAE and our goal in radiation oncology is to maintain excellence and go deeper into excellence and bring this excellence to the UAE and to the patents.
"There are many radiation oncology centres in the UAE, both private and non-private, but our goal is to bring a service of excellence by bringing talent and technology and to connect with our colleagues abroad at main campus."