November 09, 2011

UAB to train administrators of new Saudi Arabian hospital

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UAB’s health administration faculty will help train the hospital administrators of a new 1,500-bed Saudi Arabian hospital.

Faculty from the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Health Services Administration in the School of Health Professions will train the hospital administrators of the new 1,500-bed King Fahad Specialist Hospital-Dammam, Saudi Arabia.

UAB President Carol Garrison, Ph.D.; Jerry Glandon, Ph.D., chair of the department of health services administration; Khalid Sabr, M.D., executive director of medical and clinical affairs at King Fahad Specialist Hospital-Dammam.
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The two-year, $2.2 million partnership agreement was signed at a ceremony Wednesday by UAB President Carol Garrison, School of Health Professions Dean Harold Jones, Ph.D., and Khalid Sabr, M.D., executive director of medical and clinical affairs at King Fahad Specialist Hospital.

“This is an exciting opportunity for UAB,” Garrison says. “Our programs in health administration and our faculty are among the nation’s best at providing academic and experiential instruction in health administration. We have much to bring to the table, and this also is a great opportunity for our faculty to learn from the staff at King Fahad Specialist Hospital.”

Under the partnership, some 35 physician/administrators from King Fahad Specialist Hospital will enroll in the School of Health Profession’s Master of Science in Health Administration Executive program. Three UAB faculty will teach in Saudi Arabia at least once a semester for a week beginning in January. Robert Hernandez, Dr. P.H., director of international education in Health Services Administration, says up to 12 UAB faculty will travel to Saudi Arabia during the two-year period, but most of the instruction will be delivered online.

“We are looking forward to this collaboration,” Sabr says. “We are moving from a 400-bed hospital to a 1,500-bed hospital, and one of our major challenges is human resources.”

Sabr says the new King Fahad Specialist Hospital, which will be built and operating in 48 months, will be more of an academic center than a tertiary hospital and a strong middle management is needed. Many physicians in Saudi Arabia also are administrators, but that arrangement is not well suited for the new hospital, which will be almost four times the capacity of the existing hospital, he says.

“UAB’s leadership program is considered one of the best, and we decided it was the one we wanted to give to our staff to help them accomplish their tasks,” Sabr says. “By the time we open the hospital, two groups will have graduated; that will give us the staff that we need to operate the hospital.”

Jones says health-management education is a critical issue worldwide, particularly preparing people to run large enterprises such as the new King Fahad Specialist Hospital.

UAB’s Masters of Science in Health Administration program has trained leaders in health-care management for almost 50 years, and it is ranked fifth by U.S. News & World Report. The program also has a long history providing executive education. In fact, one of its first international efforts was clinical laboratory education in Saudi Arabia almost 20 years ago.

“We also have much experience working in countries such as Yemen, Kazahkstan, Armenia, Albania and China to name a few, and it certainly is exciting for us to be able to return to work in Saudi Arabia again,” Jones says. “It’s a great fit for us and a great opportunity for us to grow.

“We’re excited about the conversations we’ll have and the work we have in front of us together,” Jones says.

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