After abruptly closing its doors in October, one of Qatar’s oldest private hospitals said it is nearing the end of a months-long renovation and hopes to reopen within the next few weeks.
Speaking to Doha News, administrators at the American Hospital on C-Ring Road said the building will have an expanded radiology department and inpatient area that aim to help reduce wait times.
Renovations began in June to upgrade equipment and give parts of the dated facility a facelift. Work was initially restricted to the evenings and weekends, but then the hospital completely shut down last month following a visit from the Supreme Council of Health (SCH).
“Before, our setup was a bit old. But we still gave great service,” Dr. Khalil El-Sakhli, a general surgeon and the hospital’s medical director, told Doha News on a tour of the facility late last week. “Now, they will also get the best environment” for medical care, he added.
The hospital, which is located in Al Muntazah, opened in 1999 and sees approximately 4,500 patients a month.
It employs some 110 medical and support staff, including specialists in acupuncture, dermatology, gynecology, physiotherapy and other fields.
The project comes as Qatar’s rapidly growing population causes demand for healthcare services to increase.
There is a shortage of staff, hospital beds and increasing pressure on emergency medical services such as ambulances and hospital ERs.
Once the expansion work is complete, one of the most noticeable changes will be to the hospital’s radiology area, which is being completely rebuilt. Previously, two pieces of equipment were located inside a single room, meaning only one patient could be seen at a time.
That’s being changed so that a CT scanner, X-ray machine and mammography equipment are located in separate rooms, increasing the department’s capacity.
Similarly, the hospital’s in-patient area is being expanded by moving each of the hospital’s 20 beds into standalone rooms fitted out with medical equipment and a centralized oxygen supply.
Meanwhile, the hospital is increasing the number of operating theaters, commonly used for hernia repairs, varicose vein treatments and other surgeries, from one to two.
New equipment including hospital beds have been purchased as part of the QR15 million project, which also includes upgrades to the facility’s air conditioning systems, ventilation ducts and security systems.
“We want our patients to know they are secure and surrounded by the latest medical equipment,” El-Sakhli said.
The decision to completely shut down the hospital followed a visit by SCH inspectors last month.
El-Sakhli said the authority expressed concern about the potential impact on patient care caused by the ongoing renovations.
He said the hospital and SCH reached a “mutual understanding” to close the facility to patients until work is complete.
The SCH did not respond to a request for comment.
However, the sudden closure appears to have caught some patients off-guard.
Resident Hisham Nadi told Doha News that he arrived at the hospital last week to renew a prescription, but was unable to reach the reception area because of the construction work.
He said he was directed to another medical facility when he called the hospital, but was still left wondering why he wasn’t notified of the shutdown ahead of time.
“People used to going there for their medicine refill like me have to drive all the way, (only) to find out (that it’s closed),” Nadi said. “Wouldn’t be better if they informed their patients as a matter of respect?”
El-Sakhli said the hospital made informal arrangements with other local medical centers to receive its patients and that staff remained at the American Hospital to assist follow-up patients.
“Every patient who came was guided (to another facility) and given their test results or reports,” he said.
The doctor added that the final phase of renovations is proceeding on schedule and is expected to be ready for final government inspections by the end of the month.