Patients given a voice as vision for new Abu Dhabi cancer centre takes shape

Patients and their families are at the heart of plans for Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s new cancer centre, which is due to open next year 2022.

A patient and family advisory council has been set up, consisting of cancer patients, survivors and their families, to offer insights into services that should be made available at the centre.

The 19,000 square metre building will include 24 exam rooms, 24 infusion rooms, two procedure rooms, and an area devoted to specialised women’s oncology services, when it opens in 2022.

The 10-floor complex is modelled on Cleveland Clinic’s Taussig Cancer Centre in the US.

Dr Stephen R Grobmyer, chair of the Oncology Institute at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, said they had regular focus group discussions with patients and their families about their experience at the hospital.

"We survey them to continually assess the quality and access to cancer care and develop the next set of services to better support patients here,” Dr Grobmyer said.

“For a long time in healthcare, we have been designing services with the consultation of physicians, without involving the patient in the decision-making process."

When the Taussig Cancer Centre was being built, Cleveland Clinic decided to engage actual patients and create programmes and systems around their needs, Dr Grobmyer said.

“We are applying the same lessons in the building of our cancer centre in Abu Dhabi, with the recognition that every community has geographical and cultural differences and patients should have a say in how they want to be supported.”

The patient and family council was set up to offer continued feedback on the services the new centre will offer.

Discussions so far have included how to design patient care areas, floor plan layouts, workflows as well as the development of initiatives and patient-related wellness programmes.

Examination and infusion room mock-ups have also been created in the main hospital allowing cancer patients to experience the services that will be offered at the centre and shape the design of the care provided.

“The aim is to design the support services and the care journey at the new cancer centre with the active participation of the patients and their families,” said Dr Grobmyer.

“We are eager to gather the knowledge and invaluable insights that they and the hospital’s caregivers will share to create a warm and healing environment for everyone.”

The hospital is also running a pilot programme for breast cancer patients based on the results of a survey about their requirements before, during and after treatment.

“In a patient survey that we conducted earlier this year, we found that more than 71 per cent were interested in fitness and nutrition-related support and 80 per cent said they would like sleep counselling,” said Dr Nicole Sirotin, the chair of preventive medicine in the Medical Subspecialties Institute, who added the new centre would also be home to a new centre for healthier living.

“Data also shows that with dedicated exercise and adopting a Mediterranean diet, we can reduce the risk of recurrence of the disease by 45 per cent, particularly in patients with breast and colon cancer.

“A lot of this research, as well as our patients’ suggestions, is informing how we are moving forward with our cancer care.”

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