Urgent care primary health centres ease load of trauma units at hospitals

Patients with minor health issues can visit the round-the-clock primary health centres


The introduction of 24/7 urgent care across two primary health-care centres (PHCs) run by the Dubai Health Authority from mid-2013, has progressively helped in reducing the number of non-emergency cases being brought to Rashid hospital’s Trauma Centre, a top health official said.

The round-the-clock primary health-care centres are equipped to handle non-emergency cases such as fevers and non fatal injuries that might occur in the late hours and which used to be transferred to hospital trauma care centres prior to 2013.

In 2017, over 181,000 patients visited Al Barsha PHC and, of these, nearly 21,000 patients visited the centre during the night, the official added.

Dr Alia Mohammad Rafie, Consultant, Family Medicine, and Head of Al Barsha Health Centre, said that the introduction of the two urgent care units and the fact that they function 24 hours has directly helped in alleviating the pressure that Dubai’s Trauma and Emergency Centre at Rashid Hospital faces.

“In mid-2013, we decided to provide 24-hour service and urgent care across two primary health-care centres so that patients who needed urgent but not emergency care could visit primary health-care centres rather than going to Rashid Hospital’s emergency centre, which caters to emergency cases such as poly-trauma, cardiac arrest, strokes etc. Over the years, patients have become well aware of our services and we have seen a steady increase in the number of patients visiting the 24-hour clinics.

The two primary health-care centres are capable of effectively treating urgent cases and are equipped with multi-disciplinary specialists.

Dr Elham Al Nuaimi, Head of the 24-hour service unit in Al Barsha Health Centre, said the service is of vital importance to the community because it helps provide better access to health care and geographical proximity and helps reduce the pressure that hospital emergency departments face due to non-emergency cases.

She said the primary health-care centres should be the first point of contact for patients except for emergencies.

Dr Ayesha Al Basti, Specialist Family Physician and Acting Head of Nad Al Hamar health centre said PHCs provides services including outpatient family medicine, child health services, antenatal care, dental services, besides some specialist clinics like ENT, ophthalmology and dermatology, in addition to supportive services such as pharmacy, X-ray & laboratory services.

In 2017, the centres started a headache clinic after studying the number of cases of headaches they received. A neurologist from DHA hospital and a family physician attended the clinic to ensure that specialised care is provided to patients in primary health-care centres.

The PHCs also offer preventive screening packages at discounted rates, including women’s health, men’s health, adolescent health and smoking cessation packages, to name a few.

In addition, the DHA primary health-care sector regularly holds health education and screening programmes for various diseases across its health centres.


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