American Mission Hospital has been providing medical services for Bahrainis since the turn of the 20th century, all the while operating as a non-profit organisation
Writer: Tom Wadlow
Project Manager: Callam Waller
Not many businesses can survive more than a century without turning a profit.
The unrelenting speed of medical advancement witnessed over the course of the 20th century and into the modern day makes it all the more remarkable that Bahrain’s American Mission Hospital (AMH) continues to provision healthcare to international standards.
Indeed, it was the first hospital in Bahrain to receive accreditation from Australia’s official awarding body in 2006, a status reaffirmed in 2010.
The foundations for American Mission Hospital’s lasting legacy can be traced back to the late 1880s, when missionaries from New Jersey, USA, embarked on a programme of delivering medical care in the Middle East, or Arabia as it was commonly called.
This led to the establishment of the Mason Memorial Hospital in January 1903, which was almost immediately called into action to deal with a smallpox epidemic caused by a late rain season.
Services and satellites
Fast forward 115 years, and what is now known as AMH continues to provide vital services to Bahrain’s population.
These are divided into 23 different categories, from cardiology, dental and orthopaedic through to radiology, pharmacy and general practice. This is supplemented by a number of important admin services, which include financial, IT, HR, medical record handling, nursing administration and a chaplaincy.
Beyond the main hospital site in Manama, in the north of the country, several satellite clinics have been established to spread provision to other areas.
The Saar Medical and Dental Center, situated in the northwest, provides internal medicine, paediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, dermatology psychiatry and physiotherapy alongside general dentistry and specialist dental services.
In the Amwaj Islands, off the northeastern tip of Bahrain, lies a facility dedicated to diagnosing and treating conditions for patients of all ages while emphasising the power of preventive medicine. Finally, in the centre of the country, is the Riffa Clinic, which provides general medical and dental services.
The organisation looks after roughly 300,000 patients a year, a number that is set to rise as it seeks to bring in more expertise. Newer specialities added include plastic surgery, urology, neurology and specialised orthopaedics, among others.
Over the course of AMH’s 115-year presence in Bahrain, it has become a vital pillar of the community.
Knowledge sharing has been the cornerstone of this, with experienced doctors and nurses spreading awareness of health issues and helping those less fortunate. This has been backed up by sponsors in the form of BMI Bank, Standard Chartered and the Rashid Group, all of which identify health awareness as crucial to their corporate social responsibility initiatives.
AMH also cooperates closely with Bahrain’s Ministry of Health and Ministry of Social Development, respectively working together on permissions and community programmes.
Further raising awareness in the community is Family Health magazine, published three times a year, while regular health checks, talks and demonstrations also take place free of charge with the help of corporate sponsorship.
This highlights the importance of sponsors in ensuring American Mission Hospital can continue to operate as it does as a non-profit organisation.
One of the major fundraising activities held every year is the AMH Island Classic Charity Golf Tournament, an event which has been running since 1997 and is now hosted at the Bahraini King’s private course. Most of the funds are used to purchase critical medical equipment.
Despite the financial constraints, AMH continues to operate under the same principles which guided its founding partners.
Corporate CEO and Chief Medical Officer George Cheriyan outlines in his statement on the organisation’s website the importance of adhering to these values, values which have been key in achieving the international acclaim it does today.
Drawing on clinical career spanning three decades, Cheriyan says that modernisation and improved customer care lies at the heart of his future priorities for AMH.
He writes in his online statement: “We do not take our legacy of over 100 years of healthcare service for granted, but are working hard to take this to the next level as a model of healthcare for the future. Our goal is not just to meet, but to try to exceed your expectations as you experience care within AMH.”