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Mayo announces first hospital outside of US

Collaboration with Abu Dhabi partner signals long-term global expansion strategy

The four towers of Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City, a new joint venture hospital between Mayo Clinic and Abu Dhabi Health Services Company. Submitted photo.
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ROCHESTER, Minn. — Citing shared vision and values, Mayo Clinic on Sunday announced the opening of its first hospital outside of the United States, a joint partnership with Abu Dhabi Health Services Company ( SEHA ) in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The hospital is to be called the Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC).

Much like the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, it is intended to become a regional center for patients needing care for serious and complex conditions. The announcement marks the first step of the Clinic's emerging long-term strategy of digital and international expansion under new CEO Gianrico Farrugia.

"This is a collaboration and a unique partnership in the region, with Mayo Clinic physicians, nurses, administrators and others working side by side with colleagues from SEHA," said Farrugia in a statement.

The four-tower, 741-bed facility opened earlier this month, following two years of construction under a consulting arrangement with Mayo. While Mayo recently entered into a joint partnership with Oxford University Clinic in London, and has expertise-sharing relationships globally, the SSMC venture represents a global brand expansion for Mayo on a scale not previously attempted.


The hospital will offer 160 critical care beds, 162 exam rooms, 18 operating rooms and space for maternal and child health. It is slated to employ over 2,000 caregivers and 440 physicians at the start of its gradual, ten-year plan to expand clinical specialty services. Mayo anticipates recruiting locally within the UAE for early staffing of the center, a period supplemented with limited Mayo personnel from the U.S.

"Because we see this as a very long-term partnership, we'll see over time that the number of staff members from Mayo Clinic may grow," said Roshanak Didehban, Mayo Clinic’s chair of practice administration. "We have a shared vision for this facility," says Didehban. "Over the course of the next decade we want to transition it into a destination for complex and serious illness within the region."

The Clinic did not disclose if it made an opening financial contribution as part of the partnership. Didehban said the Clinic’s primary investment "is the knowledge and expertise of our clinical and administrative staff," adding that the Clinic "will make investments into the joint venture to ensure its success." It does not appear the Clinic is treating its expansion into the wealthy enclave separate from its core mission as an untaxed, nonprofit organization dedicated to meeting the need of patients wherever they may be.

"Mayo Clinic's humanitarian mission and values are the foundation of our international strategy," Faruggia's statement continued, "which includes sharing and extending our culture, clinical knowledge and health care delivery expertise to help meet the needs of patients wherever they are.”

Abu Dhabi is one of the wealthiest cities in the world, the jewel of an oil-rich monarchy with fewer citizens than Rhode Island and $1.3 trillion in wealth. A city that holds 6% of the world's known oil reserves, it is presently undergoing a construction boom that has drawn the likes of New York University, The Louvre and the Guggenheim. It is led by Prince Mohammed bin Zayed.

When asked if the UAE is an area of unmet need, Didehban replied that, "I do believe there is a component of unmet need there. There are service lines that aren't available within the market, and patients locally travel outside of the region to get access to that care." One such outside location is Rochester. Didehban says she did not believe building a Mayo property in the Gulf region would cut into those arrivals.

"Absolutely not," she said. "Our hope with this venture is that we will be able to grow the overall international patient base, and reach more patients through this agreement."

She described the decision to partner with SEHA as having been cemented by the recognition during the consulting arrangement of shared values. "As we got to know the Abu Dhabi Health Services company as well as the staff, we ultimately identified that our two organizations have shared values around the patient-centered delivery of care."


Paul John Scott is the health reporter for NewsMD and the Rochester Post Bulletin. He is a novelist and was an award-winning magazine journalist for 15 years prior to joining the FNS in 2019.
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