Gulf News in an exclusive interview with Dr Azad Moopen, Founder Chairman and Managing Director of Aster DM Healthcare Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: A private healthcare group in the UAE has just ordered 18 new ventilators for serious COVID-19 patients in the country taking treatment at its two hospitals. And this is just one of the many measures undertaken by Aster DM Healthcare in combating the coronavirus situation in UAE.

In an exclusive interview with Gulf News, the hospital group’s founder chairman and managing director, Dr. Azad Moopen explained how his team of “frontline soldiers” are coping with a crisis in hand.

“The UAE, like the rest of the world, is dealing with a pandemic situation. We are at the helm of it all as a medical group and our medical professionals are standing united in solidarity with the UAE government to combat COVID-19 in the country.

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Dr Azad Moopen, Founder Chairman and Managing Director, Aster DM Healthcare Image Credit: Supplied

“From setting up special COVID wards at its hospitals to allocating medical practitioners across the emirates’ communities for the virus testing - Aster DM Healthcare is at the epicentre in the fight against the coronavirus,” said Moopen.

“We have to provide our service to patients in spite of the increased risk that comes with it. But our team of medical professionals are well equipped to handle the situation,” said Moopen.

The Aster Group has deployed 200 medical staff including doctors, nurses, paramedics who are working round the clock treating COVID patients in UAE.

“Our frontline soldiers are engaged in this war against a ‘sinister monster’,” he said.

Measures undertaken by Aster Group - from a medical point of view

“We have undertaken several measures to combat the COVID-19 situation. First and foremost we have doctors and nurses across all our clinics and hospitals in UAE who are screening patients every day for coronavirus. They use their experience and medical judgement to identify a potential COVID patient. There guidelines set by DHA to identify potential patients and we are following that. This has helped identify cases in the UAE to a great extent and thereby ensuring they are quarantined at the earliest at our hospitals to curb the spread of the virus. Only two of our facilities are admitting positive patients.”

The Group’s hospitals are also accepting patients from government sector who are referred for observation and advanced treatment. Moopen said the healthcare provider has set up an online help desk – with tele consultation, an app for COVID-19 suspected cases wherein people can do a symptom check and see if they are at risk – as a way to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the country.

Availability of emergency procedures

Moopen said the healthcare group has dedicated a large number of ICUs especially for COVID-19 patients across its hospital. Besides, Aster DM Healthcare just bought eight ventilators as a back-up for serious patients. Another 10 are on the way. “As far as personal protection gear goes, we have enough stock in place. There enough are number of crash cards too. Besides, our medical staff and other personnel have been given all the necessary education with respect to handling COVID-19 patients – especially those on ventilators with a more serious condition.”

Logistics and infrastructure

The hospital group has increased its capacity of ICUs. “Many wards in our two hospitals have been converted into “COVID wards”. The Medcare Hospital Al Safa, for example has been turned into a COVID hospital. An entire floor in the Aster Hospital Al Qusais – has been converted into a COVID ward. There are a significant number of patients being treated here. We have also gone into hotels where COVID-19 patients are being kept to manage their medical situation. This is being done in conjunction with Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and Dubai Tourism.”

Forefront at the Naif COVID testing

“We were at the forefront of testing suspected cases in the Naif district recently. We worked alongside the DHA and Dubai Police for this. This helped in identifying many patients. Our doctors and nurses are there supporting health authorities in every possible way, We are also involved in patient education.”

Coping with an economic crisis

“There is a major impact on our business for sure. The overall revenues in various verticals and geographies have been slashed by more than 60 per cent. As a healthcare provider, our largest cost component is human resources (HR). We are finding ways to have financial sustainability and hope for government support too.”

“All efforts taken by DHA, the Health Authority of Abu Dhabi (HAAD) and the UAE government to contain the outbreak and help the people are highly commendable and goes on to show the forward thinking of our Visionary Leaders. We are happy to support the fight against Covid-19 in everyway possible.”