Morag Gates is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Sidra Medicine — a role she was appointed to in January 2016.

Morag is responsible for overseeing Sidra’s project management office and various support services, including facilities management, biomedical engineering, facilities design and planning, procurement, activation management and patient experience among others.

Morag was initially trained as a registered nurse and held various nursing posts within intensive care units in different hospitals in London before moving on to operational management and subsequently, into the management of large scale projects and portfolios in the healthcare sector.

She has also carried out consultancy work in Europe, Australia, and the Middle East — mainly around the building and commissioning of new hospitals.

Before coming to Qatar, Morag had overseen and worked with different hospital projects in the UK. She boasts rich experience in managing new hospital projects.

Sidra Medicine, a member of Qatar Foundation for education, science and community development, represents the vision of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, who is its chairperson.

Community recently caught up with Morag to discuss the whole gamut of Sidra operations. Excerpts from the interview:

Please share with us briefly your journey so far.

I was born in Scotland. When I left school, I was trained as a nurse. I worked in a hospital in Glasgow for three years before I moved to London in 1985 to expand my career. I worked in an intensive care unit in London and mainly worked with children and adult patients having heart problems. I later worked with some of the world renowned hospitals in London with big heart and lungs transplantation units.

I did a number of nursing jobs before moving on to project management. I started doing construction management of new hospital buildings in 1990, if I remember correctly. The first development project that I did was valued at £50 million. The second project that I did was estimated at £1 billion. The first building project had facilities to take care of patients with heart diseases, brain diseases, and cancer. The second project was a general hospital for both children and adults.

I have one brother, who lives in London. I’m married to Russel Gates, who also works on a Sidra project. Russell and I met while doing a new hospital development project. We worked together for about eight years before we got married.

What is the landscape of your achievements like?

I have had really varied experience — from being a nurse to doing project management. The main reason for changing my career was that I did not know what I was going to do professionally. I was working in a hospital where construction work was going on to add another wing. There, I thought that I would go on to project management. I was working with the project for six months when the project director left and I had to oversee the work on the hospital wing.

It was really a challenging job because the only way people spoke to each other was through their lawyers. One thing that I had learnt by virtue of being a nurse was how to speak to people. So I walked to the building site and I said it was ridiculous that we only spoke through our lawyers. I suggested we needed to keep legal arguments aside whilst working to deliver for the hospital.

How do you see your job in Qatar? Is it different from what you had done in the UK?

There are some similarities and there are major differences. It is another new hospital project. From the perspective of construction, you see all the same issues. But we’ve got 80 nationalities working here. It gives an interesting mix of experience. People from different cultures have been used to working in different ways in their own countries. We are developing a Sidra way of working. We hope to derive the best from all the people and give it to Sidra Medicine, and Qatar.

What has been your experience so far about life in general in Qatar?

We love living in Qatar. We find the Qatari people generous and welcoming. It is such a young and vibrant country. They have had a massive extension in infrastructure over a very short period of time. They recognised that there is a place for expatriates. Our job is to help them deliver the best healthcare facilities.

Please give us an insight into Sidra Medicine.

It is a hospital specifically, for children and women. It offers a beautiful facility. It will offer high quality care to both children and women by bringing in so many world class clinicians, researchers, and educationists together working with the Hamad Medical Corporation and other partners within Qatar.

We have got a new building. We have got an amazing staff. We have got high tech equipment. We will have the facility to perform surgeries here. Previously, patients have gone out of the country for certain kind of surgeries such as heart surgeries for children. We will offer neonatal surgeries. We will have special neonatal intensive care unit with full multi-disciplinary team. We will also be taking care of high risk pregnancies here.

Currently, we are open for only outpatients and we do day surgeries. The children needing a surgery come in the morning, will have the surgery, and will go back home in the afternoon. On January 14, we will be opening for referrals only. Patients should be coming here only if they have a referral. Our Emergency department will be opening later next year.

Sidra includes an outpatient clinic, a main hospital and a research institution. It is also an academic medical centre. It will provide comprehensive specialist healthcare services for children and young people and maternity care for all women in Qatar, not just locals.

The hospital will feature 140 clinic rooms, 10 operating theatres, 400 beds, 100 per cent single rooms with a private bathroom, a birthing centre and an Emergency department.

It will employ 2,000 nurses, 600 doctors and 800 other healthcare professionals as well as administrative staff.

Where do you want to see the hospital when you leave the project?

When Qatar says we no longer need you! That will be my real achievement. I want to see it as an internationally recognised name. I would also like it to be known for high quality education. Our research is already known for its high quality.

What are your personal future plans?

When I leave Qatar, I want to retire and travel the world. If I work at all, I would like to work with vulnerable children. I would like to have an opportunity to do some kind of charity work.

What advice will you like to give young medical practitioners?

Working in a hospital is one of the greatest privileges you can have. To look after patients when they are sick and vulnerable and when parents hand over their child to you to care for them, it is a great privilege. It is one of the most rewarding things you can do.

They should grab every opportunity they can. They should try and get different experiences in different hospitals. They should never lose track of what got them into the profession and they should never lose focus required for high quality care.

How will Sidra Medicine operate?

Sidra Medicine, a specialty children’s, young people and women’s healthcare organization, is preparing for the phased opening of its main hospital building on 14 January 2018. As an organization focusing on high-risk and specialty cases, Sidra Medicine will continue to see patients via referrals and by appointment only. Children, young people and women coming to Sidra Medicine must be referred by a physician from Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) clinics and Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) centers. No walk-in or emergency services will be available at opening. The first inpatients for both children’s and women’s services for the main hospital have already been registered and scheduled. Admissions in the first few months will be through the Sidra Medicine Outpatient Clinic and in collaboration with HMC. Sidra Medicine will offer more inpatient services during the course of 2018. On 14 January 2018 and during the first weeks of opening, Sidra Medicine’s inpatient services include pediatric medicine (gastroenterology, endocrinology and adolescent medicine) and elective general surgery for children and young people while its women’s service will only be doing elective caesarian deliveries. All other deliveries (even for those currently registered and receiving their antenatal care at Sidra Medicine) will be at HMC until the women’s services is fully operational by mid-2018.

Will the main Sidra Medicine hospital accept referrals from private healthcare institutions?

No. At this stage, Sidra Medicine will not be accepting referral patients from other healthcare institutions apart from HMC and PHCC. Plans are underway to widen the referral network so that we can accept referrals from physicians from other healthcare institutions in the country. Sidra also has an international referrals office that reviews referrals from abroad.

Can patients request to be referred to Sidra Medicine?

Patients need to discuss their preferences with their primary or secondary physician who will refer them to the most appropriate provider based on individual assessment. At this stage, there will be no direct referrals of pregnant women (obstetric patients) from PHCC to Sidra Medicine. These referrals will be determined/ triaged at HMC by both Sidra Medicine and HMC doctors.

 How do women get referral to Sidra Medicine? What services do you provide?

At this stage, there are no direct referrals of pregnant (obstetric) patients from PHCC to Sidra Medicine. PHCC and other care providers will continue to refer all pregnant women to HMC. These will then be reviewed and triaged by both Sidra Medicine and HMC doctors to either Sidra Medicine or HMC outpatient for care. Sidra Medicine’s women’s service will only be doing elective caesarian deliveries within the first weeks of opening. These patients are already registered. All other deliveries (even for those currently registered and receiving their antenatal care at Sidra Medicine) will be at HMC until the women’s service is fully opened in mid-2018.”

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