Al Zahra Hospital Dubai - Unprofessional Behavior at ER and COVID-19 Testing Facility

Jan 03, 2022

Rabah El Aawar-of United States

I arrived at Al Zahra Hospital, Dubai at 12:15 AM on Jan 4, 2022, and at their ER section. I left at around 2:00 AM in the morning, and from their COVID-19 testing facility. This is what I had written as an official complain to Al Zahra Hospital, Dubai moments ago, and I leave it for the whole world to read:

"The below horrendous experience with your ER and COVID-19 testing service is summarized in the below points and lines, and I am hoping and praying to God that they would be read and acknowledged thoroughly so that severe actions against your incompetent staff and drastic changes to your ER and COVID-19 testing process would come in place right after this. Otherwise, good luck with maintaining any good name in the health industry if you will continue to be reluctant to consider the following as matters that should ring your 'alarm bells' against all the unprofessionalism and disastrous experience that I had experienced tonight, along with all the other patients who had gone through the same negative experiences tonight:

1) My time was wasted upon arrival at your ER section by waiting in line for more than 20-30 minutes since only two staff persons were stuck with assisting two admission cases right at the same time. In both lines, six other people, including myself, were waiting to be served and had no other choice but to remain standing in line until someone, and by an act of God, could finally assist them (which never happened). From our clear understanding though from what we have heard while the patients were interacting with your staff, those two admission cases were mismanaged and delayed for payment-related purposes. If this was indeed the case, your staff could have moved those two admission cases to be handled by a dedicated cashier to close the payment-related matters while other patients could be finally assisted by your information desk staff. Unfortunately though, you had no dedicated staff to handle cashier-related matters - why?!

2) Just before my turn came to receive any assistance by your information desk staff, one patient was waiting to receive the COVID-19 test results and we clearly heard saying to your information desk staff that he was told earlier in the day when he took his COVID-19 test that his results would be ready in 10-12 hours. Your information desk staff then asked a woman, who was apparently either a doctor or one of your other senior staff as to why had there been a delay, and so that woman had replied rudely to your staff and to the patient, and quite loudly as well, that it is "impossible" for anyone all across the UAE to receive the test results in 10-12 hours, and that it takes around 48 hours to receive the results instead. The patient tried to reason with this woman telling her that his flight is today and was scheduled based on what he was informed earlier, that his test results would be received sooner during the day, yet, that rude woman answered the patient that he still has to wait and that it is "his business" alone as to why he had scheduled his flight. In brief, the mode of tone and the way this woman was speaking with the patient was so unprofessional that it felt like she was treating him as an extreme inferior to her or as someone who works for her or as her slave. It was not a treatment that would best be suited for a patient or a customer. My own personal recommendation is that immediate corrective action (re-training or staff replacement) should be taken against this woman staff of yours, and that politeness and professionalism in answering patients muse be the most suitable alternative from now on in dealing with such patients and such concerns made by patients. Funny though, when I was finally assisted by the information desk staff and got to sit in the waiting area, your own advertisement on TV at the waiting area mentioned that the COVID-19 test results would be ready in around 10-12 hours (I am not quoting this word for word as I had forgotten the exact words and exact hours mentioned in the ad, but they were indeed not 48 hours as the woman had rudely and loudly had mentioned to the patient). If the rules had changed or if the testing process time had increased, then the rest of your staff and your ads need to be advised and changed accordingly and respectively.

3) When I was at the patient room with one of your Filipino male nurses, the nurse was taking my symptoms and then he was interrupted by one of your other staff, possibly another nurse of South Asian origin. Your Filipino nurse was professional enough to tell the other nurse not to interrupt him again when dealing with a patient. Honestly, I have never seen a nurse being interrupted like this ever before in my entire life being serviced at a hospital in UAE or outside of UAE. I wonder how your staff are trained or how your nursing etiquettes and policies, if any, are being followed by all of your staff or not.

4) The doctor who assisted me mistook my Hashimoto's disease as inserted in my patient papers with a case of 'hypertension'. If nurse handwritings are going to cause such doctor reading-errors, why not have a system instead to showcase all such patient entries digitally, just like the ex-Al Zahra Hospital in Sharjah does, which is now renamed to NMC?

5) I had to wait then long enough to finally get the approval from NextCare, my insurance, to get my payment for the COVID-19 test, which was requested by your doctor as I have a case of throat infection. During the waiting time, one of your professional Filipino nurses told me that I can collect my medicine from the pharmacy and then return back to the information desk to learn if the approval to my test is ready. After collecting my medicine from the pharmacy, I had to again wait in line at the information desk, where three others were in line before me waiting for one information desk staff to assist them, and when the other information desk staff was only busy doing some paperwork and was not assisting anyone. Even the security guard was telling the patients to go to one of the information desk staff instead and not the other, which generated the unreasonably long queue that I had mentioned earlier. Finally, when my turn came, your only information desk staff person told me that my COVID-19 test approval was still pending, and he immediately then jumped to tell me that if I want to be discharged, I could then pay the AED 150 to avoid waiting for the insurance's approval. The insurance simply demanded more information from the hospital as to why would they need to approve my case, which means that your staff did not provide enough information to NextCare from the start as to why the COVID-19 test was required. Rather than me being cornered in a position where I am advised to pay the AED 150 for the test, why could there not be enough input shared from the start with the NextCare team? A hospital like yours surely must have not experienced my insurance request case for a COVID-19 test for the first time. Moving on, I asked your information desk staff if I could pay for my doctor consultation case's excess amount at least since I was already waiting in line for some time, he still did not listen to me and returned to talk about the AED 150 for the COVID-19 test... I had to repeat what I am asking him again, and he instead advised me to speak to one of the available nurses to see how long would it take to get my approval done as the payment should be made for the doctor consultation and COVID0-19 test right at the same time. Later, and as per your nurse's advise, I was coldly asked to wait for 30 minutes to 1 hour to get the insurance approval, as if this whole waiting is now my fault or the insurance's fault instead. Anyhow, I decided to wait, albeit that my patience began to slowly fade away for the amount of unnecessary delay and waiting for a COVID-19 test insurance approval. I am sure no one in the world would find this 'fun'.

6) Later, I had to continue waiting to receive information on the insurance approval from your staff, but no one assisted. Thank God though, I had the NextCare app installed on my phone, and this is where I had later learned that my COVID-19 test was finally authorized. I had to again wait in line at your only one information desk staff's counter to be assisted, as there had been three others waiting in line: again, another severe admission case; a patient who happened to have arrived to the wrong hospital; and a patient who was just before me in line, waiting patiently to make her needed doctor consultation and COVID-19 test payment. It's amazing how much patients could learn while standing in queue at your information desks! While waiting at the information desk too this whole time, another patient suffering from chest pain noticed that a patient who was clearly not as critical as he was got served earlier. The patient in chest pain had to yell at your staff for more immediate assistance. It was an underwhelmingly lowbrow 'wow' moment, really.

7) When I had finally got the chance to conclude making my payment at the information desk, the later events is what I could easily call the the worst cherry-on-top-of-it-all and the most negative crème-de-la-crème experience at your hospital: the evidently and extremely mismanaged and disorganized COVID-19 testing unit at Al Zahra Hospital, Dubai. I arrived to see a big number of patients in waiting, having no tickets, no numbers, no turns, and one of the patients was even asking the security guard at the COVID-19 testing unit's entrance for advise as to when is will his turn come to take the test, and the security guard replied to the patient that he had no idea what the patient needs to do. I approached the same security guard to ask him where to go, and he told me to head directly to the glass counter inside. I headed to the counter, only to see many others like me in waiting, and no one was there from the Al Zahra team to advise them who goes first who goes next. Three nurses where inside the unit, a South Asian woman, an African man, and an African woman, all nurses in blue scrubs. Couldn't have one of them assisted in organizing the patients in line, or couldn't Al Zahra dedicate someone for this task as these are critical pandemic times? Believe me when I say this... This is what then happened: the patients arranged themselves by themselves in line at the registration counter at the COVID-19 testing unit. No one from your staff was there to arrange the patients in ticket or numbering, etc. Why?!

8) Finally, the female African nurse came and she yelled my first name. I heard it; she said 'Rabah'. Another patient of South Asian origin ran and said that it was him who was called out, and that his name was 'Kamran'. The patient behind me then said, that no, the nurse said her name, which is 'Rahaf'. I had to jump in line and ask the nurse whose name did you call, and she looked at me rudely and estranged, and asked me 'what is my name?'. We all had to show her our names on paper and then she selected mine. She said 'Rabah' after all, not 'Kamran'. not 'Rahaf'. Could she had not been more professional to call out the first and last name? Later, this is when the really funny part happened... I waited for a minute for the nurse to get ready, and then she shows me a test tube container with my name on it, indicating that I have to respond that it was me whose name was on the container. I am sorry, but, didn't we close that already and mentioned that it was 'Rabah' who was the one she called?! I then snapped out of it and hit the front of the counter with anger while placing my phone on it. The same ridiculously slow female nurse then starting shouting at me that I am not supposed to hit the counter, I then sarcastically replied, "I am so sorry my dear! Could you finally take my COVID-19 testing sample?!", and she then took the sample in less than a minute. Yes, a test that only lasts a minute got me wasted much time in waiting without any clarity or earlier assistance by your COVID-19 testing unit staff. I was so angry to the point of not being able to control myself and I was yelling with anger, and while I was reaching the door to exit, your lousily, lazily, and slow security guard had coldly raised his hand to point at another door for me to use to exit. I totally lost it again and I even had yelled out once more with anger. I left from your hospital with the most unusual temper after all of my patience had melted away, and that was thanks to the countless unprofessional experiences mentioned above, and more horribly for the ones that I had to go through at your totally mismanaged COVID-19 testing unit. Just FYI, NMC (formely-known Al Zahra Hospital in Sharjah), takes the COVID-19 tests at the patient's room itself, without any complications or mismanagement. Could you have not done something like this specifically for your patients?!

In conclusion, your entire ER and COVID-19 testing unit needs far more proper process re-engineering and far better management for them to function more respectfully with patients and customers."