McLean Working to Expand Substance Addiction Services in the United Arab Emirates

McLean inks five-year contract to serve as consultants to the Abu Dhabi National Rehabilitation Center

April 11, 2011

McLean Hospital, the largest psychiatric affiliate of Harvard Medical School and a member of Partners HealthCare, has signed a five-year contract with the National Rehabilitation Center (NRC) in Abu Dhabi to provide consultation services that will allow the NRC to offer expanded substance addiction treatment programs within the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The contract between McLean and the NRC was facilitated by Partners International Medical Services, a component of Mass General Brigham (formerly Partners HealthCare) that strives to improve healthcare worldwide.

“As a well-known and respected substance misuse and mental health care provider in the United States, McLean Hospital is eager to share its clinical care, research and education expertise with our colleagues in Abu Dhabi,” said Philip G. Levendusky, PhD, ABPP, senior vice president of Business Development and director of Psychology for McLean. “We are committed to improving substance misuse and mental healthcare on a global level and this project not only allows us to achieve that goal, it also fits very well with our hospital’s tripartite mission.”

Recognizing an increase in the prevalence of alcohol and drug addiction among its citizens, in 2002 the government of Abu Dhabi established the NRC. Today, it currently offers 40 residential beds and expanding outpatient services, but according to NRC Director General Hamad Abdallah Al Ghaferi, MD, MPH, there continues to be a growing need for substance misuse treatment services in the UAE. As a result, NRC has initiated a comprehensive program development process that will allow it to achieve the objective of becoming a state of the art 200-bed multifaceted continuum of care by 2013.

“The vision of the National Rehabilitation Center is to provide the best available treatment for substance use disorders in line with the most advanced international practices in the field,” explained Al Ghaferi. To that end we are thrilled to have the Harvard Medical School affiliated McLean Hospital, one of the best psychiatric facilities in the United States, as a partner in this very important precedent setting venture.”

In preparation for opening the new facility, McLean will work closely with the NRC to develop clinical programs, infrastructure, policies and educational programs for staff. It will also work to help develop a public awareness campaign designed to decrease the stigma of substance misuse in the UAE.

In January, a multidisciplinary team from McLean, including Nancy Hoines, MPH, director of Business Development, Nancy Merrill, RN/PC, program director for the Alcohol, Drug, and Addiction Treatment Program, Christine Tebaldi, MS, NP, director of Psychiatric Services for McLean programs in community hospital settings, Richard Hunter, PhD, ABPP, of Clinical Outcomes Group, Edwin McCarthy, MS, MPA, director of Consulting Services for Partners International, Sanjiv Shah, MBA, and Levendusky traveled to Abu Dhabi, where they spent a week with the NRC staff reviewing current practice protocols and establishing a framework for growth.

“This is a bold initiative and we look forward to working with the NRC to provide services that will improve the lives of UAE citizens who need addiction treatment,” said Hoines. “We have already identified a number of priorities to assist the NRC to achieve its goals.”

As a next step, explained Levendusky, staff from the NRC will visit McLean Hospital’s addition treatment programs in Massachusetts, where they will have a first hand opportunity to closely work with McLean personnel to learn about all aspects of the hospital’s system of substance misuse treatment and research that directly informs clinical care. They will also attend McLean and Harvard Medical School Continuing Education Programs.

“This is an integrated effort to share our best practices with the NRC,” said Levendusky. “McLean is honored to be a part of the expansion of substance addiction services in the UAE and we’re looking forward to this collaboration.”

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