190905 universal hospital
Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: The Universal Hospital in Abu Dhabi has shut down, the Abu Dhabi Department of Health (DoH) has said.

In a statement sent to Gulf News, the health sector regulator said that it has approved the closure of the the facility.

“Following a request from its owner, Universal Hospital was approved to shut down. All patients were moved promptly to alternative hospitals and provided with full support for the transition of their treatment,” the DoH said.

As Gulf News reported earlier on Thursday, the 200-bed multispecialty hospital had stopped accepting patients. Sources had claimed that the hospital was shutting down, citing unpaid salaries and financial troubles. They also said that many staff members had already resigned.

“The hospital is no longer open, as far as I know. I’ve been with it for a long time, but I’ve just given in my resignation,” one staff member told Gulf News. “Things here seem very uncertain now, and even if things do turn around, it will be at least a few months before any of us can expect to get paid,” the staff member added.

The hospital’s appointment booking hotline was not working on Thursday. It played a pre-recorded message: “We are sorry we are unable to take your call right now. Please call us again later.”

The hospital is located in two towers on Airport Road. When Gulf News visited on Thursday, the staff at the main reception said they were closed.

“We are closed right now and are not taking any appointments for a month due to some structural changes,” the receptionist said.

The other tower appeared to be deserted, and the pharmacy was closed with no merchandise on its shelves.

A case about salary non-payment has also reportedly been filed, and long-term personnel had said they were hoping for a peaceful resolution to their complaints.

“We have been worried about the situation, and have filed our complaints with the police. Hopefully, the authorities can help,” a long-term nurse told Gulf News on Thursday.

The DoH however said that it is not responsible for remuneration.

“Remittances for hospital employees do not fall without our mandate and request for comment on these matters should be addressed to the relevant authority,” it said in its statement to Gulf News.

Senior officials at the hospital were unreachable for comment. But one senior doctor said that “work is happening in the background, in coordination with health sector officials, to resolve issues.”

The hospital first opened in 2013, and has been a popular choice for many residents in the capital.

In April 2019, the Abu Dhabi Department of Health (DoH), which regulates healthcare facilities in the Emirate, temporarily closed Universal Hospital for failing to meet certain health and safety standards. Patients were then transferred to other facilities, but Universal re-opened once again on May 6.

A statement by the Department of Health said at the time that the hospital had implemented “corrective actions”.

Dr Shabeer Nellikode, managing director at Universal Hospital, told Gulf News at the time that the hospital had been carrying out “certain structural changes that had to be communicated to the authorities”. Dr Nellikode could not be reached for a statement on recent events.

Sources however reported that the hospital has been in financial trouble for a while, and that not much could be done to resolve issues unless new investors step in.

“I feel that the temporary closure in April simply made things worse,” a source had said.