First glimpse inside Abu Dhabi’s new mega hospital

Hundreds of staff are now working in Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City, which will be fully open in January

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More than 700 beds, 18 operating rooms, four wings and a surgical robot: welcome to Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City.

Abu Dhabi’s largest hospital began admitting patients two weeks ago and has since treated around 400 people and performed 40 procedures.

By the time it is fully up and running, on January 9, the hospital hopes to have at least 4,000 staff and see up to 3,000 outpatients a day.

The National was given a private tour of the 30,000 square metre facility. Billed as the most advanced hospital in the country, it is hoped it will stop Emiratis from having to travel abroad for treatment.

“SSMC is one of the largest in the UAE and region with highly equipped technology. I am very proud to be part of the leading team working in the hospitals,” said Dr Nahed Balalaa, an Emirati surgeon and member of the

managing committee.

“I want my patients to be with their families while receiving treatment which is now available here. We brought all the technology and expertise here and my personal aim is for all Emiratis to not travel abroad for treatment.”

Run by Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha), the emirate's public hospital operator, SSMC has been opening in stages and will eventually replace Mafraq Hospital.

“We are done with phase one and will start phase two next week until all of Mafraq’s patients are transferred to SSMC. Lots of dry runs have been done to ensure the transition goes as smooth as possible,” Dr Balalaa said.

With 380 beds, all patients and the majority of staff at Al Mafraq will transfer to SSMC, less than 300m away.

Mafraq Hospital was inaugurated in 1983 and, while it have been a major part of the lives of doctors, staff and residents, Dr Balalaa said everyone is “excited and looking forward to the big move.”

Billions of dirhams have been spent on SSMC in an effort to position it as one of the UAE’s flagship hospitals.

“This hospital is one of the largest and advanced in the region in terms of capacities, technologies, expertise and diversity of specialities,” said Dr Abdul Majeed Al Zubaidi, chief medical officer.

“It is the centre of excellence when it comes to trauma and burns.”

Its location, at a crossroads of two main highways between Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, and Al Dhafra, makes it a key hospital for the greater emirate.

A variety of insurance types will accepted at SSMC but the hospital aims to encourage referrals from primary healthcare centres, rather than walk-in appointments.