ABU DHABI // Cleveland Clinic is to double the number of doctors after complaints from some patients about long waits to get appointments.
The hospital said that 200 additional doctors would be hired by the end of the year to ensure that all patients are seen within two or three weeks.
Abdulla Al Shamsi, chief administrative officer, said there had been an “insatiable demand” for services at the hospital, which began accepting patients in March last year.
“We currently have 200 doctors as part of our clinical workforce. This will grow to 400 doctors by the end of next year and the growth of these doctors will be concentrated on the areas that will address these exact points of demand,” Mr Al Shamsi said.
Emergency patients are treated immediately while other patients have to wait longer, depending on the speciality. While some patients said they were seen by a doctor within one or two weeks, others who recently sought appointments said they were told they would have to wait up to December.
One patient, Umm Yousef, 33, said that a customer service representative had informed her that the only appointment she could get for the next day was either in the infectious diseases or dermatology departments.
“I had the flu and a painful ulcer in my mouth and needed a GP,” the Moroccan said.
When Emirati Mohamed Salem’s legs felt numb, he went to Burjeel Hospital.
“A doctor at Burjeel told me to go to Cleveland hospital because I needed an MRI and further tests, which would be costly at a private hospital.”
The doctor at Burjeel advised him to go to CCAD’s emergency unit. “That’s the only way I would be seen by a doctor immediately,” said Mr Salam, 43.
“When I tried to book an appointment for my mother-in-law, they gave me an appointment after three months, so I took her to the emergency [room],” he said.
Mr Al Shamsi said that the hospital was aware of current complaints, but also that 50 per cent of patients were getting their appointments within seven days, while only 30 per cent were waiting more than 14 days.
He said that “because of the efficiencies that we want to have within the organisation”, it was now “tailoring the doctors that we are bringing on to make sure they address these areas of demand”.
“By the end of next year, we are working on trying to keep people within a two to three-week timeline, maximum.”
Emergency patients, however, “fall within a 24-hour timeline regardless of what type of pressures we have internally. So if you are an urgent patient, we will take care of you and we will make sure to accommodate you”.
M K, an Emirati, said she called CCAD for an appointment for her friend, a thalassaemia sufferer, who was having severe headaches.
She said that a customer services representative talked her through the situation. “I was worried about my friend and after I described her symptoms to the representative, she calmed us down and said that the situation was not urgent but if the pain was severe then she should come to the hospital and a doctor would see her immediately,” she said.
CCAD is modelled on the Cleveland Clinic in the United States. It is part of Mubadala’s network of world-class healthcare providers that aims to offer healthcare services that previously were available only to Emirati patients able to travel abroad.
At present, CCAD receives between 2,500 and 3,000 calls a day. The hospital currently schedules 1,500 appointments a day but is looking to provide up to 2,000 with the new hirings.
“We are here to provide international-level quality care and in providing that level of care, we are hoping to reduce the need for patients having to travel abroad. We believe we have been successful in achieving that,” Mr Al Shamsi said.
“We have a department called continuous improvement and it’s a cultural aspect that we developed here at CCAD, where we are continually finding ways of being more efficient.”
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi currently accepts Thiqa and premier health insurance policy holders. It also accepts patients who wish to pay themselves.
“We are continuing to work with other insurance providers to offer more choices for healthcare coverage in the future.
“We welcome all patients – Emirati, expat and international patients. In fact, we’ve seen patients from more than 50 countries around the world,” Mr Al Shamsi said.