Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Emergency Department Provides Fast Responsive Care to Everyone who Needs It

Dr. Harold Shim

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: A physician at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Emergency Department found himself needing the urgent care he usually provides, when a rare form of pneumonia caused his lung to collapse in October.

Dr. Harold Shim began feeling ill as he ended his shift. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, part of Mubadala’s healthcare network, is a COVID-free facility but out of an abundance of caution, he took a COVID-19 test that came back negative. Suspecting he had the flu, he stayed at home over the weekend to try and recover. Over the next few days, he began experiencing shortness of breath, even finding it difficult to walk upstairs.

“After a couple of days, the Chair of our Emergency Department Dr. Jacques Kobersy called me to check how I was feeling. When I told him about my symptoms, he told me to come in to get checked out. It was only then that I realized my condition was more serious than I thought. My blood oxygen levels were below normal, and my chest X-ray looked pretty bad. Luckily, I have tremendous faith in my colleagues and I knew that our Emergency Department was the safest place I could be,” explains Dr. Shim.

Concerned that his condition could be contagious, Dr. Shim was placed in one of the Emergency Department’s negative pressure isolation rooms while he underwent a battery of tests. A bronchoscopy revealed a large number of white blood cells in his lungs, pointing to a diagnosis of eosinophilic pneumonia, a rare disease. Following the diagnosis and as his condition began to improve, Dr. Shim was discharged to continue his recovery at home.

A week later, despite having felt significantly better, Dr. Shim had a coughing fit and became short of breath. At around 1AM, he asked his wife to take him to the Emergency Department.

“Harold’s oxygen saturation had dropped significantly and was even lower than when he had first come in. Our tests showed that one of his lungs had collapsed. His chest cavity was full of air, putting pressure on his lung and even his heart, a potentially life-threatening condition that needed immediate treatment,” says Dr. Ashley Alwood, a consultant in Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Emergency Department.

Dr. Alwood inserted a chest tube to relieve the pressure in Dr. Shim’s chest and re-inflate his lung. This led to an almost immediate improvement in his condition and allowed him to breathe normally. Admitted to the hospital for observation, it became apparent that the leak in his lung wasn’t healing on its own, so he needed a minimally invasive surgery to repair the leak and remove a balloon like pocket of air that had developed between his lungs.

“I was called to consult on Dr Shim’s case as he had developed rare and unusual complications from his pneumonia. Looking at his scans was quite surprising as you certainly don’t see complications like his every day. After discussion it was decided that a video assisted, minimally invasive approach was the best way to treat his condition. Our team cared for Dr. Shim as a colleague and a friend which is how we treat all our patients at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. Doctors often have a reputation for being challenging patients, but I’m pleased to say that Dr. Shim was a pleasure to treat,” says Dr. Redha Souilamas, Chair of Thoracic Surgery at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.

Following his successful surgery, Dr. Shim has returned home to regain his strength and looks forward to getting back to work with a fresh perspective on how it feels to be a patient.

“This has been an incredibly humbling experience. I’ve experienced how our patients feel when they come to us scared and sick, and seen how quickly the team respond and offer the highest level of care. I look forward to getting back to work and building this experience into our approach to treating our patients like they were our own family,” concludes Dr. Shim.

About Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi:

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, part of Mubadala’s network of world-class healthcare providers, is a multispecialty hospital on Al Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is a unique and unparalleled extension of US-based Cleveland Clinic’s model of care, specifically designed to address a range of complex and critical care requirements unique to the Abu Dhabi population.

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi has the following Institutes: Heart & Vascular, Neurological, Digestive Disease, Eye, Respiratory, Critical Care, Surgical Subspecialties, Medical Subspecialties, Emergency Medicine, Anesthesiology, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Imaging, Quality & Patient Safety, and Clinical & Nursing. In all, more than 40 medical and surgical specialties are represented at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.

The facilities at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi combine state-of-the-art amenities and world-class service standards. The hospital is a 394 (expandable to 490) bed facility, with five clinical floors, three diagnostic and treatment levels, and 13 floors of critical and acute inpatient units. It is a physician-led medical facility served by North American/European Board Certified (or equivalent) physicians. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi provides patients in the region direct access to the world’s best healthcare providers and Cleveland Clinic’s unique model of care, reducing their need to travel abroad for treatment.

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi – Al Ain began offering select medical services in December 2017. The facility is located on the Tawam Hospital Campus in Al Ain.

About Mubadala Investment Company:

Mubadala Investment Company is a sovereign investor managing a global portfolio, aimed at generating sustainable financial returns for the Government of Abu Dhabi.

Mubadala’s $232 billion (AED 853 billion) portfolio spans six continents with interests in multiple sectors and asset classes. We leverage our deep sectoral expertise and long-standing partnerships to actively source deals. In the UAE, we are driving sustainable growth by optimizing scale and efficiency, supporting the continued diversification and global integration of the local economy while growing our shareholder value. 

Headquartered in Abu Dhabi, Mubadala has offices in London, Rio de Janeiro, Moscow, New York, San Francisco and Beijing.