Lebanon Report

AUBMC’S 2020 Vision?

Middle East Health speaks to Dr Mohamed H. Sayegh, Executive Vice President for Medicine and Global Strategy, Raja N. Khoury Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at American University of Beirut, about AUBMC’s 2020 Vision to transform health care in Lebanon.

Middle East Health: What is the AUBMC 2020 Vision?

Dr Mohamed H. Sayegh: AUBMC 2020 Vision is to transform healthcare and be the leading academic medical centre in Lebanon and the region by delivering excellence in patient-centred care, outstanding education, and innovative research, all within the major strategic commitment by American University of Beirut (AUB) for American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC) and the Faculty of Medicine. AUBMC is uniquely positioned to play a unique role as the leading academic medical centre in Lebanon and the region. The main themes of the vision integrate leadership, excellence, innovation, partnerships and expansion.

Middle East Health: Can you give some detail why this initiative was launched?

Dr Mohamed H. Sayegh: Launched in 2010, AUBMC 2020 Vision is an ambitious and comprehensive initiative that aims to affirm AUBMC’s position as the leading medical centre and healthcare institution in the region. The vision has been set into action based on the need to establish new clinical and research centres of excellence with state-of-the-art equipment and the application of best practices. It redefines service excellence and advanced healthcare while integrating regional and international partnerships. AUBMC’s 2020 Vision has progressed along six main paths 1) Providing patients with the highest standards of patient-centred care, 2) Recruitment of top-calibre, highly specialized, and accomplished faculty (from July 2009 to date over 150 faculty members from leading institutions around the world have joined AUB’s Faculty of Medicine), 3) Academic innovation through the creation of clinical and research centres of excellence and the provision of outstanding medical education, 4) Establishment of strategic partnerships and collaborations locally, regionally, and internationally, 5) Investing in and expanding our facilities to meet the needs of the people of Lebanon and the region, and 6) Supporting the health of local and regional patients in need by ensuring their access to care.

Middle East Health: Who is involved in this initiative?

Dr Mohamed H. Sayegh: In short, everyone is involved in this initiative. We are witnessing great changes in medical education and, indeed, in medicine in the broadest sense. A team of top-notch leadership embody the vision and values of the organisation, ensure shared and unwavering approaches to performance management, encourage, enable and reward learning, quality improvement and innovation. In addition to AUBMC leadership, faculty and staff members participate instrumentally in developing a workforce that would yield the most advanced results in health and social care through increased partnerships and collaboration.

Middle East Health: I understand that around 80% of AUBMC 2020 Vision is complete? Can you tell me a bit more about what has been completed and what parts are outstanding?

Dr Mohamed H. Sayegh: After years of extensive and relentless work, it gives me great pleasure to highlight the progress we have achieved so far. Multiple services (including centres of excellence, specialized clinical services and units) were established to meet the needs of our patients. These services target diseases that are important to Lebanon and the region and allow AUBMC to lead the delivery of patient care through a focus on a comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach. In these past years, AUBMC has witnessed the establishment of state-of-the-art buildings like Souad and Wassef Sawwaf Building, Medical Administration Building (MAB), and the Halim and Aida Daniel Academic and Clinical Center (ACC) in addition to centres of excellence in oncology, neuroscience, multiple sclerosis, and child cancer, as well as new clinical programs, services, and units. Moving forward, a new medical complex will also be established to house around 150 new beds. The Faculty of Medicine has also been acclaimed for the recruitment We seek to advance cutting-edge technology at AUBMC to become commensurate with healthcare delivery in the best academic centres in the US. of over 150 top-calibre, highly specialized and accomplished physicians and scientists; hence, reversing the brain drain. As an academic medical centre, AUBMC has also been able to standardize and improve the ethical standards of human subject research aligned with the improvement of inter-disciplinary and inter-faculty research initiatives.


Middle East Health: What new medical disciplines will be introduced?

Dr Mohamed H. Sayegh: The medical centre will grow from an approximately 350-bed institution to a 550-bed medical complex. AUBMC has so far fully established four unique centres of excellence that carry out three primary missions namely, the provision of clinical services, teaching, and research. These include the Abu Haidar Neuroscience Institute, the Nehme and Therese Tohme Multiple Sclerosis Center, the Children’s Cancer Center of Lebanon, and Naef K. Basile Cancer Institute. AUBMC will be opening a Heart and Vascular Center of excellence in 2017 that will help address issues essential to reducing the burden of the disease in Lebanon and the region.

Middle East Health: What new technology has/will be introduced?

Dr Mohamed H. Sayegh: We seek to advance cutting-edge technology at AUBMC to become commensurate with healthcare delivery in the best academic centres in the US. To pursue ground-breaking treatment, numerousclinical centres such as the Special Kids Clinic, the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Unit, and Robotic Surgery have been effectively running. To take basic and clinical research at AUB to international standards, five basic and translational research centres of excellence have also been established. These include Cancer Biology, Cardiovascular Sciences, Genetics, Neuroscience, and Therapeutic Stem Cells. To meet the medical needs of the community, various technologies such as the PET/CT have been installed. Another project under planning at AUBMC is the hybrid OR which will combine advanced imaging capability with a fully functioning operating suite

Middle East Health: What have been the main challenges in implementing the 2020 vision and how have they been resolved?

Dr Mohamed H. Sayegh: Political instability in the country and the region are perhaps amongst the most arduous challenges that we have been trying to accommodate throughout the past years. In that sense and since it is a major leap for the healthcare system in general and for AUBMC in particular, the execution of the AUMBC Vision faced multiple challenges. Chief amongst these were fundraising and recruitment of faculty of high calibre and expertise. In addition, change in healthcare isn’t as easy as it may sound. In general, people resist change; and without full buy-in from all faculty and staff, we will not be able to implement the vision. Hence, AUBMC faculty and staff, and by believing in the 2020 Vision, have been the drivers of change. Training healthcare personnel and delivery of healthcare services, especially to the most complex and financially challenged patients, has been a responsibility increasingly shouldered by AUBMC over the years. Yet, we have managed to successfully raise funds (directly and with several volunteer groups) to support the treatment of needy patients at AUBMC, another major challenge. With that being done, AUBMC has been able to treat hundreds of patients and launch over 40 initiatives across several departments, to provide excellent healthcare to the most vulnerable patients at our medical centre.

Middle East Health: AUBMC 2020 Vision will see the expansion of a number of disciplines. Looking at research specifically, what new research avenues do you foresee opening up at AUBMC?

Dr Mohamed H. Sayegh: Consistent with its pioneering role in delivering cutting-edge research and stemming from its steadfast dedication to enhancing human health, the AUBMC 2020 Vision has signed an agreement to set the ground for establishing numerous first-of-their-kind research and academic centres, the latest and most ground-breaking of which is the Pillar Genomics Institute of Precision Medicine. This institute will transform the way diseases are treated, linking advanced research and next-generation sequencing in the laboratory to the patient’s bedside. Using precision medicine will translate research breakthroughs into the most advanced therapies for patients.

Middle East Health: With the increased patient capacity – will AUBMC see more foreign patients, more patients in financial need, more patients from refugee populations?

Dr Mohamed H. Sayegh: AUBMC is committed to improving the health of its entire regional community, particularly those that need it most, the ones with the most limited resources and means to do so. That includes patients with limited financial resources, as well as those that have been most affected by the turmoil that has plagued our region over the past several years. In addition to needy patients and as leaders of healthcare in the region, we at AUBMC are committed to doing our part by providing refugees, displaced and vulnerable, with the medical care they need. The most recent estimates put the number of refugees in Lebanon at approximately one million. Refugee families living in Lebanon are in dire need of support. AUBMC’s community service efforts span across all of Lebanon to provide emergency assistance to patients who arrive from the different Arab countries, specifically Syria and Iraq. Through its affiliation with the Iraqi government, AUBMC has become a major hub for Iraqi patients whose cases lack adequate local avenues for care. Additional AUBMC community service ac-tivities include Palestinian refugee camp visits and free public health screenings.

Middle East Health: Regarding patients in need, I understand there have been considerable fund-raising initiatives to support treatment of this patient sector at AUBMC. Can you tell me more about this?

Dr Mohamed H. Sayegh: Several funds have been established to treat patients using the most advanced facilities, equipped with cutting-edge technology and expertise in various medical disciplines, modalities of treatment and supportive care. Amongst these are the Braveheart Fund, the OpenMinds Fund, the Neonate Fund and many others. In addition to providing direct medical care to regional patients, AUBMC has assisted our regional neighbours through education to build the capacity to better care for patients in their countries and territories. AUBMC continuously hosts and funds numerous workshops for Iraqi and Palestinian healthcare professionals. One such initiative is the training of healthcare professionals operating in the West Bank. Through the Medical Welfare Trust Fund (MWTF), many successful patientcentred activities have been implemented across the West Bank including numerous health/wellness fairs, and organized interactive awareness sessions across different specialties.

Date of upload: 16th Jul 2016

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