Staff retention essential to the success of the UAE’s hospitals
ABU DHABI // Retaining doctors and nurses is vital to stabilising the emirate’s healthcare system, according to health chiefs at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.
In the past, many medical institutions in the UAE have struggled to retain staff and consequently there is a high turnover of doctors and nurses across the country.
Providing a happy work environment and opportunity to grow professionally will be a top priority when Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, the emirate’s flagship hospital, opens next year on Al Maryah Island, said Dr Tomislav Mihaljevic, the hospital’s chief of staff.
“Recruitment is only the first step but retention is immensely important for us,” he said. “We are truly bringing the Cleveland Clinic over here and we want to maintain what really makes Cleveland Clinic so successful in the United States.
“The four pillars of success are people; the way they are organised; the way they provide care; and lastly the environment in which they function.
“And truly the professional environment in which they function and which they are allowed to grow personally and professionally is the one that is responsible for retention of talented caregivers over here.”
He said professionals would have the opportunity to continue medical education and research in their field while working at the hospital.
About 5,500 doctors applied for the 175 positions at the hospital.
Almost all of those doctors are now on the ground in anticipation of the hospital opening, said Dr Mihaljevic, who is also the chief of the heart and vascular institute.
“About 125 are already here with their families and the remainder will be here within a month or so.
“They are now spending their entire time in preparation for the opening of Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi and part of that is an exhaustive and very thorough educational process; primarily to become familiar with their new professional environment and with their new colleagues.”
About a third of all doctors have Cleveland Clinic experience while 80 per cent of all physicians are being employed from the United States.
Dr Marc Harrison, the chief executive of the hospital, said he wanted to achieve a similar retention rate to that of its United States facility in Ohio.
“If you look at the clinic in the US, the professional staff turnover is about 4 per cent year-on-year, including retirement. So it is very low,” he said. “We want to recreate that here in Abu Dhabi.
“We have all the opportunities of the clinic plus we have the advantages of Abu Dhabi, which is a rapidly growing, expanding and evolving healthcare ecosystem.”
While the recruitment process for physicians was complete, many of the other positions at the hospital had also now been filled, he said.
“We have people of different stars and stripes who are arriving every week,” Dr Harrison said.
“Some weeks we have as many as 100 new people join us. It is a very exciting time.”
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi has been built on the same model of care as the US model, he said, and designed in mind with a “culturally appropriate environment”, down to the pods in the reception areas that shield patients and their families from other visitors.
“We have taken the ‘patient-first’ ethos from Cleveland Clinic Ohio and we have brought it here. The patient is the centre of every decision we make.”
Suhail Mahmood Al Ansari, the executive director of Mubadala Healthcare, praised the working relationship with Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. “The relationship is not by any means a new one,” he said. “People have been travelling to the Cleveland Clinic in the US for years. Naturally, when we initiated our efforts to bring excellent health care closer to home, one of the things we took into consideration was how would the partnership assist in making the venture a success.
“We wanted someone who would share our values and of course have the same level of commitment to making this a success.
“The fact that they have been leaders and pioneers in the field of medicine made the Cleveland Clinic the natural choice.”
Updated: September 27, 2014 04:00 AM