Corniche Hospital marks 30 years and more than 200,000 babies delivered

One hospital in Abu Dhabi handles about a quarter of the baby deliveries in the emirate, meaning that, over the past 30 years, the hospital has had a major impact on the area.

The Corniche Hospital's maternity unit has served the people of Abu Dhabi for 30 years, delivering more than 200,000 babies in the process. Courtesy of Corniche Hospital
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ABU DHABI // It is not hard to find a UAE resident who was either born at the Corniche Hospital or knows someone who was.

It was 30 years ago this month that one of the longest-serving hospitals in the country opened its doors to expectant mothers.

Since then, more than 200,000 babies have been delivered at the hospital, which handles about a quarter of all deliveries in the emirate.

“Anywhere I go in the community, the first time I say I am from Corniche Hospital more than half say ‘I was born at Corniche’, or ‘I had my baby at Corniche’,” says Linda Clark, chief executive of the hospital.

“And for so many it’s generations of families: cousins, sisters, aunties – they all had their babies here.”

The original Corniche Hospital opened in 1977, operating in a converted hotel next to its current site.

In 1984, the maternity hospital opened its doors.

Now with more than 1,000 staff, it specialises in high-risk obstetrics, foetal medicine, neo-natal intensive care, obstetrics, gynaecology, midwifery, and more recently IVF.

That history was brought home to Ms Clark this week.

“One of the patients we saw this week had a baby – and the patient’s mother delivered her here,” she says.

“We think she was one of the last babies born in the old hospital.

“Her mother remembers being wheeled across the car parking lot after she delivered in the old hospital and then moved into the new hospital.”

Ms Clark says a key milestone in the hospital’s history was moving under the umbrella of Abu Dhabi Health Services Company, or Seha, in 2007.

“It brought us up to international standards,” she says.

Another milestone was when it became the first to start screening every newborn for critical congenital heart disease, and when it began testing the hearing of all newborns.

A major achievement was when it was named a “baby-friendly hospital” by the World Health Organisation for its work in promoting breastfeeding.

It was also the first in Abu Dhabi to hand out more than 8,000 free baby car seats to promote child passenger safety.

Launching a residency training programme four years ago has been a key success, as has the midwifery programme.

The hospital employs more than 100 midwives, more than any other in the UAE.

That is the past. The future holds even bigger plans.

In the short-term, there will be a new in-vitro fertilisation clinic and a mental health department to help those suffering post-partum depression.

But the biggest change will be plans to move from its landmark location.

In 2012, it was announced that the Corniche Hospital would be replaced by a dedicated Women’s Health Hospital in Sheikh Khalifa Medical City.

The 235-bed Corniche Hospital will be demolished.

The schedule has yet to be finalised but Ms Clark says it is likely to take many years.

Corniche has grow to be an integral part of Abu Dhabi’s history, she says.

“When you think 30 years ago where Abu Dhabi was and 30 years forward where Corniche Hospital and Abu Dhabi are now, it is a totally different world,” Ms Clark says.

“It parallels the country so well.”

Dr Mariam Al Mazrouei, deputy chief executive and chief operations officer, says the hospital’s reputation encourages so many prospective mothers to choose to deliver at Corniche.

“What brought patients in and kept them with us for the last 30 years is our clinicians,” Dr Al Mazrouei says. “They trust our quality of care.”

She says she chose the Corniche Hospital as the place she wanted to pursue her career because of its great impact on the community.

“I thought, ‘what is better than managing a women’s health hospital and making a positive change?’” Dr Al Mazrouei asks.

“Hospitals tend to deal with sick people and complicated cases. Here, 99 per cent of the time it is happy occasions. It is very enjoyable to be here and to work with a team who are every day celebrating new babies coming into the world.”

The facts:

Corniche Hospital first opened in 1977 in a building located next to the current site. The current site opened in 1984.

More than 200,000 babies have been delivered at the hospital since it first opened.

About 8,000 babies are born at the hospital every year.

Corniche Hospital is owned and operated by Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha) and managed by Johns Hopkins Medicine International.

The hospital specialises in high-risk obstetrics, foetal medicine, assisted reproductive services, neonatal intensive care, obstetric medicine, gynaecology and midwifery.

The hospital has been named a “baby-friendly hospital” by the World Health Organisation for its work in promoting breastfeeding.

The hospital was the first in Abu Dhabi to distribute more than 8,000 free baby car seats to promote child passenger safety.

It was the first to introduce the infant-tagging system “hugs and kisses”, a new infant-protection system in Abu Dhabi.

In 2011, Corniche Hospital was granted HAAD approval for a new residency programme in obstetrics and gynaecology to train UAE Nationals.