Practical Patient Care Middle East: Could you run through the standout features of Clemenceau Medical Center?

Dr Mounes Kalaawi: Clemenceau Medical Center (CMC) is a unique medical centre that combines luxury and technology, integrating avant-garde treatment, a five-star luxury setting, a healing environment, a medium for continuous medical education and knowledge transfer, and specialised professionals – all under one roof.

Located in Beirut, Lebanon, CMC’s affiliation with Johns Hopkins Medicine and multiple accreditations by Joint Commission International (JCI) enables the medical centre to offer its patients superior healthcare services embedded within a culture of excellence, and a relentless commitment to high-quality patient care. CMC has been recognised as one of the top hospitals in the Middle East, and was chosen as one of the most technologically advanced and architecturally impressive hospitals in the world.

CMC currently operates with 101 beds, seven state-of-the-art operating theatres, and wide-ranging inpatient and outpatient services. Adjacent to the main building is the Clemenceau Clinic, comprising 46 multispecialty clinics.

What kind of research and philosophy went into the design of the facility? What were the most important features?

With the architectural design and layout of CMC, the goal was to ensure the health, safety and welfare of medical professionals, staff, patients and their families. A commitment to creating the best environment for healing and healthcare delivery is our mission. Our evidence and research-based design accounted for the impact of a range of design characteristics, such as single rooms versus multibed rooms, reduced noise, improved lighting, better ventilation, better ergonomic designs, supportive workplaces and improved layout. This helped to reduce errors and stress, improve sleep, and reduce pain and drug use.

Moreover, when planning for the design of the medical centre, it was essential to keep the future in mind. Accommodation for incorporating new technologies was therefore part of initial plans, making the facility adaptable. This puts CMC ahead of other medical institutions, because we avoided having to catch up to meet new demands, and fewer changes will be needed to update our technology capabilities. When designing CMC, the idea of improved physical settings was an important tool in making the centre a safer, more healing space, and a better place to work.

To what extent do you believe surroundings have an impact on health?

A large extent, of course. I have found that the physical environment highly affects patient and staff outcomes in several areas. Environmental measures improved staff health and safety, reduced stress and fatigue, and increased effectiveness in delivering care. The design of better workplaces also saw increases in staff effectiveness and satisfaction, and reductions in errors.

Improved ventilation systems and better availability of alcohol-based hand-rub dispensers (to reduce the risk of hospital-acquired infections) increased patient safety. The introduction of the new Pyxus system, and acuity-adaptable and flexible patient rooms led to a reduction in medication errors. Safety-conscious rooms and the placement of rails, among other factors, decreased the likelihood of patient falls. Finally, unit designs that take into account auditory and visual privacy led to improvements in patient confidentiality.

Environmental surfaces were used in order to reduce noise and improve sleep, including measures such as well-lit hallways and rooms, attractive interior design (such as large windows, views of nature and artistic paintings) and elimination of wayfinding problems. This has improved patient outcomes. CMC also improves the quality of overall healthcare with majority single-bed patient rooms, reduced length of stay, and an aesthetically pleasing and safe environment.

Did you have a particular patient in mind when making design decisions for CMC?

We recognised the opportunity to increase patient safety and promote a patient-safe culture by improving the traditional hospital facility design process. We therefore identified the need to develop a set of safety-driven, patient-oriented design principles that could be used in all circumstances – whether in building a new facility, or remodelling or expanding an existing facility.

CMC addresses local and international patients’ experiences during their healthcare encounters, and was developed from a patient’s point of view to focus on the transition from one activity to the next. We made sure to organise operational assumptions on the understanding of how services and activities across the spectrum of a patient visit should best be coordinated so as to optimise a patient’s experience. This process helped drive the type, size, configuration and location of spaces in the buildings.

Are there any culturally specific design elements that might be better received by patients in the Middle East than those in Europe or America?

CMC is a reflection of the country in which it is located – that is, Beirut, Lebanon. Beirut is a melting pot, and its people are well-exposed, well-traveled, and well-educated from European and American-associated educational institutions. CMC was therefore built by architects, engineers, and interior designers from all over the world, and its cultural impact reflects this.

What sort of feedback have you had from patients and staff about the design of the facility?

When patients first enter CMC, they tend to think they are entering a hotel lobby. With an automated piano playing in the background, a fresh assortment of flowers, high ceilings and clean space, CMC patients feel relaxed from the moment they step inside. They are always amazed at the high level of medical service and expertise they receive and
are exposed to, which is why CMC patients, international and local alike, are loyal, and always come back.

How important is the introduction of the latest technology in new medical centres?

In the wake of current healthcare reform, technology is a big part of the solution for caring for a population that will live longer and require a higher level of care. Physical space should be thought of as a platform for modular installation. We must develop structures that will fully support hospitals’ current needs and anticipated changes – so it is essential to track patient, staff and material movement, and tweak physical layouts to optimise flow and service.

As technology, information management, and security and medical equipment are integrated into the design process, buildings can be extensions of individual operational plans at the departmental level. In addition, having suppliers working at an early stage with the architectural team had a positive impact on the final layout fully integrated with the latest technology, which resulted in optimal cost-saving solutions.

What’s next for CMC?

CMC is expanding on a local and regional level. In a few months, the official inauguration of the annex will take place, including 57 additional beds, a radiotherapy centre, two additional operating rooms, a haemodialysis unit, five additional outpatient clinics, a new stem cell unit, a specialised cancer centre and a psychiatric ward. The new outpatient department will also open, to house 35 new multispecialty clinics.

On a regional level, Clemenceau Medicine International (CMI) – which provides technical assistance and management advice on developing state-of-the-art medical facilities and services – will be launching a 180-bed CMC-affiliated hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It is also launching a 200-bed CMC-affiliated hospital in Amman, Jordan; a 180-bed CMC-affiliated hospital in Cairo, Egypt; and a 140-bed CMC-affiliated hospital in Dubai Healthcare City, UAE.