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Sunday, May 9, 2021

Expectant mothers in Qatar encouraged to seek healthcare outside of Doha

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

As Doha hospitals and clinics grow increasingly crowded, local healthcare providers have been making a big push for patients – especially expectant mothers – to seek treatment outside of Qatar’s capital.

Over the past few years, the country’s steadily growing population has put an increasing strain on public healthcare facilities.

Private options are also struggling to keep up, as the rollout of the Seha insurance plan for Qataris has increased the patient load, making it difficult to maintain a high level of care.

2014 birth figures in HMC hospitals
2014 birth figures in HMC hospitals

But according to newly released figures, the lion’s share of babies born in Qatar continues to be at the nation’s public hospitals.

More than 21,000 babies were delivered last year by Hamad Medical Corp. (HMC), an increase of approximately 4.5 percent from 2013.

That doesn’t include figures from privately run hospitals such as Al-Ahli, Al Emadi and Doha Clinic, which health care providers estimate handle a much smaller number of births than HMC.

The vast majority of babies – 16,269 – were delivered at HMC’s main Women’s Hospital near Al Sadd, according to David Barlow, HMC’s director of women’s services.

Women's Hospital
Women’s Hospital

But that number is actually down from the 17,051 babies delivered in 2013 at the Women’s Hospital, which is currently undergoing an expansion.

Meanwhile, the number of births at the Al Wakrah Hospital – which opened in 2012 – jumped from 2,050 in 2013 to 3,673 last year.

The number of babies delivered at the Al Khor Hospital, meanwhile, climbed 7 percent to 1,197, while births at the Cuban Hospital increased 88 percent to 256.

“We’re trying to ensure that patients are spread around so we’re not overloading one facility,” Barlow told Doha News in a recent interview. “If too much pressure is placed on a single facility, patients won’t get the best care.”

Choosing a hospital

As Qatar’s population grows, Doha is home to an increasingly disproportionate number of residents, relative to the rest of the country.

A 2013 report found that there were 3,136 people per sq km living in Doha, compared to eight people per sq km in Al Shamal.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

To help reduce the strain on the capital, government planners have been encouraging more residents to live outside Doha, enticing them with the construction of more schools, markets and healthcare facilities.

Deciding where in Qatar a woman gives birth typically starts with a conversation between the expectant mother and her doctor in one of the country’s primary health centers, Barlow said.

Patients aren’t always aware of all the available facilities, some of which may actually be closer to a woman’s home than Hamad Medical City, he added.

“People often think of the Women’s Hospital as the default place to give birth, because for a while it was the only (option),” Barlow said. “We’re not forcing people (to go to one hospital over another). Instead, we’re trying to encourage them to think about all the hospitals.”

While high-risk pregnancies are mostly referred to the Women’s Hospital, all of HMC’s general hospitals “are fully equipped for the untoward situations that can happen to a women having a baby,” Barlow said.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

One factor that can affect a patient’s choice is whether a maternity ward would allow a woman’s husband to be present while his wife gives birth.

Barlow said that given the country’s diverse population, patients tend to be in opposing camps about the practice. He added that HMC tries its best to accommodate a patient’s request, but the physical layout of a maternity ward can make this difficult.

While some rooms can be easily divided at the Cuban and Al Wakrah hospitals, Barlow said it is trickier at the Women’s Hospital, where men are generally not allowed in a delivery room.

Those who feel husbands should not be present in the delivery room would typically not want other men to be in an adjacent hallway.

“It’s not just who is in the room. It’s also about the corridor,” Barlow said.

Big picture

As demand for healthcare rises across the board, Qatar is working to construct nearly a dozen new medical facilities around the country, including an 1,100-bed trauma hospital in Duhail and facilities in Mesaieed, Ras Laffan and Doha’s Industrial Area that focus on treating Qatar’s large blue-collar population.

Sidra Hospital
Sidra Hospital

Meanwhile, work continues on the much-delayed Sidra Medical and Research Center, which is expected to deliver 10,000 babies each year while providing reproductive and perinatal care, among other services.

Sidra was initially scheduled to open in 2011, but officials have revised that deadline multiple times. A mid-2015 opening was discussed last year, but Qatar Foundation later fired its contractors in a move believed to have resulted in further delays.

A Sidra spokesperson told Doha News this week that she could not comment on when the facility would open.

Meanwhile, HMC’s new Women’s Hospital is in the “final stages” of interior construction, Barlow said. It’s expected to take up to a year to fit out the facility with medical equipment once the building is handed over to HMC, he added.

Barlow said the new facility would increase the number of Women’s Hospital operating rooms and delivery rooms, from 16 to 21.

He added that the exact number of beds is being revised based on changing patient trends, such as a decline in the average number of nights a new mother stays in a hospital.

Thoughts?

11 COMMENTS

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Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago

My wife was told to go to Hamad Wakra. To be honest I prefer to take her to an “empty” place rather than a busy one.

Qatarhero
Qatarhero
6 years ago

We’ve decided to use the Cuban Hospital for our second child after a terrible experience at Hamad with our first. The level of care is far superior at the Cuban. The staff are much more professional and it is less busy. The staff at Hamad always seemed stressed and overworked. They also seemed pressured to bend the rules for certain patients whilst sticking to them rigourously for others. I was made to leave as per the rules at 10pm- the woman my wife was sharing a room with had her husband there at 3am. She also had 4 loud guests the entire time. When I asked the ward sister if she could speak to them about the noise, so my wife could get some sleep, I was told ‘they are Qatari I cannot say anything to them’.
At the Cuban a local woman arrived late for her appointment and started shouting saying she wanted to be seen. She was treated exactly the same as anyone else and made to wait until last. Very good to see.

Smile
Smile
6 years ago
Reply to  Qatarhero

On the contrary Qatarhero, my wife gave birth naturally to our first child, a healthy baby boy in Hamad Women’s Hospital last year and i can say sincerely that everything was fine. The only thing not so good is the room is a bit congested with four beds and four mothers and visiting families charting, babies crying but not so bad because its a joyous atmosphere. My wife said delivery guys are fantastic and friendly. Like u, i was made to leave at 10 pm, but not a problem for me because my wife and baby are healthy and i live in Al Sadd about 5 min drive to WH, Of course i would have love to stay with them.
Thing is sometime people are lucky to meet good guys irrespective of nationality and sometime people are not so lucky. I think in our case we are lucky to meet good guys of different nationality who are excellent and caring. we have know issues. everything went on smoothly.

Qatarhero
Qatarhero
6 years ago
Reply to  Smile

I had no problem with leaving at 10pm or with the two guest limit in the room. I had a problem with fact that the rule was not applied to everyone fairly. You are right that everyone might have a different experience depending on who they met but so far the Cuban is far superior in every respect. The staff there treat all patients the same, as it should be no?

The crowding at Hamad is an issue as my wife could not sleep due to the constant mobile phones going off and slamming of the bathroom door as the multitude of guests went in and out. After a long labour my wife needed sleep regardless of the ‘joyous’ atmosphere. She is looking forward to a private room at the Cuban.

You say you were lucky to meet good guys- should we really rely on luck for something this important?

Curiosity Killed the Cat
Curiosity Killed the Cat
6 years ago

The Cuban was excellent, my husband stayed with me and baby in the same room for 5 nights. The staff, of course Cuban, were friendly and extremely welcoming of him and understanding regular “Western” requests. Al Khor said he would not be allowed in building and should wait in car or stay in Doha until we come back. Our room was beautiful with windows, natural light, own shower bathroom and TV. I’m so glad this facility exists as we did not feel welcomed at the other Hamad hospitals by staff or other more “important” patients. The bill for our C section and 5 nights – 500q.

disqus_CpJJvzDxuG
disqus_CpJJvzDxuG
6 years ago

So does this only apply to maternity patients, or everybody? God forbid I need any medical treatment, but if I ever do, I’d like to try the Cuban hospital in Wakrah after hearing good things about it. Hamad is overcrowded and stressful for both patient and staff. I experienced some rough and rude treatment there and in some private clinics as well — why do so many doctors talk down to their patients, like you’re dirty or stupid for having an ailment? You’d think they earned their medical degree in a vacuum.
Can people take their referral from the health center GP straight to the Cuban hospital? I wonder.

Chipper fluffypants
Chipper fluffypants
6 years ago

YES! I love Cuban Hospital and go there for everything. The drive does not bother me at all. 45 minutes on a blissfully straight, traffic free road. Everyone from admin, staff, nurses, and doctors are polite, respectful and everyone is treated fairly. I have a referral for a CT and I went there to make an appointment. The only problem is you have to come back to retrieve the films. They are not done the same day. (non-emergencies) Plus, their system isn’t linked to Hamad yet, so a doctor from Hamad couldn’t pull up the films. But the doctor at Cuban CAN pull up the films from a CT scan done at Hamad. KInda weird…

disqus_CpJJvzDxuG
disqus_CpJJvzDxuG
6 years ago

Sounds good. I like Wakra so I wouldn’t mind the extra trip just to pick up test results. Hopefully they won’t get too crowded because of all the glowing reviews!

Turkish
Turkish
6 years ago

i tell the true my best hospital for woman… Of course Hamad Woman Hospital Staff super care any patient. We have baby last week. momy and baby fine el-hamdü-li-llah…Only i dont understand why people waste money for

flowers and chocolate Why… We have friend i just tell all we doesnt want flowers and chocolate!!!
if they want to do i said we want to donate syrian people so they are happy to give us money. we are happy syrian people happy İnsallah…

Smile
Smile
6 years ago

My wife gave birth naturally to our first child, a healthy baby boy in Hamad Women’s Hospital last year and i can say sincerely that everything was fine. The only thing not so good is the room is a bit congested with four beds and four mothers and visiting families charting, babies crying but not so bad because its a joyous atmosphere. My wife said delivery guys are fantastic and friendly. I was made to leave at 10 pm, but not a problem for me because my wife and baby are healthy and i live in Al Sadd about 5 min drive to WH. Of course i would have love to stay with them.
Thing is sometime people are lucky to meet good guys irrespective of nationality and sometime people are not so lucky. I think in our case we are lucky to meet good guys of different nationality who are excellent and caring. we have know issues. everything went on smoothly.

Nise
Nise
6 years ago

If you have delivered in Qatar please fill the survey: http://kwiksurveys.com/s.asp?sid=h1wq2yej0dhjgs4505837
Thank you for your time in answering it 🙂
If you missed the results of last year’s survey check back here:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.385131134988845.1073741829.256164981218795&type=3
Also Al Ahli and Doha Clinic comparative graphics.
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.389222604579698.1073741830.256164981218795&type=3

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