The American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC) revealed its ambitious plans for future growth and its commitment to remain the leading provider of health care, medical education and innovative research both locally and in the region as part of its 2020 Vision, announced during a press conference at the Issam Fares Hall on Wednesday, April 20, 2011. The press conference was held under the patronage of HE Mohamed Jawad Khalifeh, Minister of Health of the Republic of Lebanon.
Dr. Mohamed Sayegh, dean of the Faculty of Medicine and vice president of Medical Affairs at the American University of Beirut (AUB), affirmed that the medical center’s 2020 Vision will transform the delivery of health care for the next 100 years.
"Our AUBMC 2020 Vision is to be the leading academic medical center in Lebanon and the region by delivering excellence in patient centered care, outstanding education and innovative research,” said Dr. Sayegh, assuring that the medical center also aspired to compete with the best academic medical centers in the West. “The main themes of the vision are leadership, excellence, innovation, partnerships and expansion.”
Dr. Sayegh explained that as part of its 2020 Vision, AUBMC plans to provide more comprehensive medical services in terms of the type of these services, their number and their availability to the largest possible constituents both in Lebanon and the region. AUBMC also plans to maintain its role as a leading institution of innovative medical research and medical education in the region.
To be implemented over the next nine years, AUBMC’s 2020 Vision envisages the institution’s growth along six main paths, stated Dr. Sayegh. Firstly, this includes the development and implementation of the new AUBMC 2020 Medical Complex. This will see the medical center grow from an approximately 350-bed institution to a 600-bed medical complex that will also include new adult and pediatric hospitals, the creation of specialized centers of excellence in oncology, neuroscience, heart and vascular disease, amongst others, as well as an expansion in the existing services and buildings.
The second component to AUBMC’s growth, explained Dr. Sayegh, will be the recruitment of top-caliber, highly specialized and accomplished faculty, based on the belief that the best working teams provide the best service. “During the last year and a half, we have added more than 40 new faculty members and the majority are Lebanese people whom we brought back from leading institutions in the USA and some from Europe,” said Dr. Sayegh, assuring however that this approach to recruiting the best talents in their fields will not only be applied to the medical and academic staff, but also to the larger AUBMC family.
The third component involves a more emphasized focus on the patient’s changing needs and the delivery of patient centered care. This includes redefining service excellence and constantly updating and changing systems based on the needs of patients. “To lead the way in patient satisfaction, in September of 2010 a Patient Affairs Team was established to ensure that the patients’ needs and satisfaction are at the core of what we do,” announced Dr. Sayegh.
Fourth, AUMBC plans to lead the way in innovation through the creation of clinical and research Centers of Excellence to meet the medical needs of Lebanon and the region. These particularly include the creation of the Heart and Vascular Center and the Multiple Sclerosis Center which is set to open this year. The latter will be the first of its kind in the region and will address unmet needs of education and information, given increasing Multiple Sclerosis incidences in the Middle East. Work on this center is set to begin in June 2011. AUBMC is currently home to three Centers of Excellence on children’s cancer, the neurosciences and the treatment and research of adult cancers.
The fifth component outlined in the AUBMC 2020 Vision envisions the establishment of academic, clinical or research based strategic partnerships and collaborations locally, regionally and internationally. These partnerships will aim at providing access to more patients, supporting training opportunities, catering to clinical exchange and collaboration, as well as improving the level of health care in Lebanon and the region.
“We want to be the institution of choice for partnership and collaboration when medical institutions in the region are looking for a partner in capacity building,” Sayegh said, adding AUBMC has the potential to be an excellent partner institution offering advantages no less than those offered by such prestigious international institutions like Harvard and John Hopkins. AUBMC is able to offer partnering institutions a strong understanding of the issues surrounding health care delivery in Lebanon and the region, the benefit of speaking the local language, help with capacity building, and expertise and knowledge of performing state of the art health care procedures, explained Dr. Sayegh.
Last but not least, AUBMC’s 2020 vision promises commitment to the academic research and education mission of the Faculty of Medicine and AUBMC.
“The history of AUBMC has put a great responsibility upon us. The responsibility of an institution that has contributed to building an excellent reputation for health care in Lebanon and an institution which has been strongly linked with the fields of medicine and health care delivery in the country and the region. Let’s look forward to the 21st century with further improvement and continued leadership,” Dr. Sayegh said.
AUB Provost Ahmad Dallal focused on the elements of innovation and leadership in education and research as outlined in AUBMC’s 2020 Vision, assuring that with its components and vision AUBMC supports AUB’s overall vision and mission.
“AUBMC will continue to lead the way in education, through the Faculty of Medicine, the Hariri School of Nursing and with the creation of an Office of Continuing Medical Education,” stated Provost Dallal, pointing out that since 1867 the Faculty of Medicine at AUB has graduated over 3,700 medical students, many of whom are leading providers of health care and innovation around the world.
Provost Dallal announced that there are several plans for advancement in education at AUB’s Faculty of Medicine. These include: curriculum restructuring to ensure an education that leads to better delivery of health care for patients; the pursuit of additional international accreditations, particularly an aggressive plan to seek ACGME International (Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education) accreditation; efforts to increase the diversity of the faculty’s student base and accept more students from outside of Lebanon.
“We are also committed to the education, training and advancement of professionals outside of AUB through our Regional External Programs, and our newly established External Medical Affairs Office and Continuing Medical Education Office,” Provost Dallal said.
With respect to research, Provost Dallal explained that another main pillar of AUBMC’s 2020 Vision is to serve as a regional hub for research initiatives. “There is a huge gap in data specific to populations of the Middle East and North Africa. As a leading academic medical center in the region, it is our goal to help address these needs in order to provide more targeted care specific to our patient population,” he stated.
Highlighting the importance of research as a development tool for the region, Provost Dallal outlined some of the challenges research in the Middle East faces: lack of proper regulatory infrastructure; lack of ethical guidelines and protocols; brain drain and the exodus of talented researchers; limited resources in terms of personnel, space and equipment; instability in the region that detracts investment; and limited collaboration. “AUB and AUBMC look to be leading partners in changing the tide,” assured Provost Dallal.
These goals will be met through the development of a clinical research hub, with the Clinical Research Institute at the Faculty of Medicine serving as a basis for these efforts, and the alignment of research to the needs of patients in the Middle East.
AUB President Peter Dorman focused on the important role of service as a component of the institutional mission of the University. “Through both calm and turbulent times, we have cared for millions of patients, and AUBMC in particular was the face of healing and humanity for communities here in Beirut, during the difficult years of civil strife. The dedication and resilience of our talented medical staff have been amply proven.”
The implementation of AUBMC’s 2020 Vision will continue to bring tangible benefits to the people of Lebanon and the Middle East through the improvement of health care, the influx of highly skilled physicians and researchers to Lebanon, the contribution these developments will have on the local and regional economy, the advancement of knowledge of health issues and medical practice through research, and capacity building throughout other medical institutions in the region, explained President Dorman.
In his closing remarks, HE Mohamed Jawad Khalifeh, the Minister of Health, referred to AUB’s motto- “So they may have life and have it more abundantly”- and praised the role of the University as an institution that is “far more than just a medical center and more than a school of medicine and nursing.” He pointed out that AUB’s commitment to freedom in teaching, expression, and understanding is what has ensured the University’s success in Lebanon and the region.
Speaking about the close collaboration between AUBMC and the Ministry of Health, the Minister assured that AUBMC played an important role in improving the government’s health care provision facilities and capabilities. He particularly focused on AUBMC’s collaboration with public hospitals in Tripoli, Sidon and Shabaa, in improving the services they render to the public. Some of the projects that have been realized through collaboration with the Ministry of Health have addressed issues relating to breast cancer, infant and mother mortality, and intensive care units for children.
Minister Khalifeh explained that the government adopted the policy of working with and benefiting from universities because it is not able to muster the resource base and infrastructure these universities are able to offer. In this respect, he pointed out that AUB graduates have always been the first to volunteer for public service due to an education that encouraged them to put their knowledge in the service of the national good.
The Minister also praised AUBMC’s 2020 Vision, highlighting the importance for medical centers to be incorporated into larger universities or other institutions to ensure their viability and their continued ability to provide medical care and education that meets the expectations of the society at large while ensuring broad access to these services for everyone.
Expressing his satisfaction at the collaboration between AUBMC and the Ministry of Health and the benefits it has had on the poor segments of society, Minister Khalifeh said: “The hand that AUBMC has extended to the people of Lebanon, reaching to Shabaa, Sidon, Tripoli and other regions may encourage others to compete and establish health services in these regions. This would benefit Lebanon immensely given that it is a small country.”