With a tangible sense of pride and joy, the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC), staff and friends, welcomed His Excellency the President of the Lebanese Republic, General Michel Sleiman and the First Lady Mrs. Wafa Sleiman, in their midst for the ceremonial groundbreaking of the Academic and Clinical Center (Daniel ACC), the first major milestone of the AUBMC 2020 Vision, AUB’s largest project to date.

In his speech, President Suleiman reassured the audience of ministers, members of parliament, trustees, distinguished guests, AUB leadership and AUBMC staff, supporters and students present that AUB’s avant-garde vision, guidelines and objectives” stemming from a noble and humanitarian mission, “were since the inauguration of the Faculty of Medicine in Beirut in 1867,” emphasizing the sacrifices and services that AUBMC has been providing to the people of Lebanon and the region since its inception in 1902. His Excellency President Sleiman stated that these services “did not come to an end despite the difficulties and challenges” facing Lebanon through those years; for AUB and its medical center have lived through “Lebanon’s different and unstable ages keeping its mission well-established and perseverant throughout the decades.” President Sleiman stressed the impact of AUB’s future contribution, through the AUBMC 2020 Vision, in “providing numerous job opportunities and stimulating the young talented Lebanese to remain on the land of this country that is rooted in a history of civilization, culture and science.”

For the Chairman of AUB’s Board of Trustees, Dr. Philip Khoury, this was indeed “a landmark day in the history of AUB”, for the new AUBMC facility we broke ground on, “will greatly enhance our ability to serve the people of this country and the region.” Chairman Khoury recounted that by approving this project in June 2010, “the Trustees of AUB renewed their commitment to medical education and health care, at the core of AUB’s mission, for the people of Lebanon, the region, and beyond”.

In his speech, President of the American University of Beirut, Dr. Peter Dorman, emphasized the fact that AUB’s location is no accident, that the founders were aware of the importance of establishing a university “in the Middle East, of the Middle East, and for the Middle East”, not “an American university with an outpost facility in Lebanon”. It is in this context and spirit that AUB has, since its inauguration, been “graduating medical experts who have gone to work at the finest hospitals, research institutions, and medical centers around the world.” It is in this same spirit of the founders that many are coming back to Lebanon to be a part of the AUBMC 2020 Vision.

For VP of Medical Affairs and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Mohamed H. Sayegh, the groundbreaking ceremony was an opportunity to pledge and promise Lebanon, in the presence of His Excellency the President of the Republic, to resiliently thrive to maintain our nation’s position as a pioneer and a platform for the convergence of medical expertise in the region.

Following the round of speeches, His High Excellency, the First Lady, ministers, members of parliament, trustees, distinguished guests, and AUBMC staff, supporters and students moved to break on the ground from which the Daniel ACC will rise.

The AUBMC 2020 Vision, announced in June 2010, aims to take medical care in the region to unprecedented levels of excellence, following six major paths:
The first path is the development and implementation of the AUBMC 2020 Medical Complex: The new AUBMC 2020 Medical Complex will expand clinical services, create centers of excellence and increase the medical center’s capacity from 350 to 600 beds. This project, of which the ACC is part, is already under way since 2010.
The second path is recruitment of high-caliber specialized faculty and “reverse brain drain”:  Inspired by the slogan “The best team to provide the best care”, AUBMC will continue to build off of the greatest expertise. Since 2009, over 80 new faculty members have joined AUBMC from some of the top academic medical centers in North America, Europe and other institutions in Lebanon and the region to meet the needs of patients visiting AUBMC. The new recruits bring specialized and unique skills including research, clinical and medical education/training expertise.
The third path is focusing on the patient and his/her changing needs: A main pillar of the AUBMC 2020 Vision is to provide patients with the highest standards of patient-centered care, quality and safety, partnered with excellence. In this context, creating a unit dedicated solely to patient satisfaction was seen as an essential step. In September 2010, a Specialized Patient Affairs team was established to ensure that patients’ changing needs are met and any potential issues they face are solved proactively.
The fourth path entails the continuous establishment of clinical and research Centers of Excellence. In the light of the regional demand for outstanding medical services, AUBMC continues to progress towards becoming a regional hub for clinical practice and research through the establishment of centers of excellence and specialized clinical services aligned with the needs of the community and the region. Among future projects is a Heart and Vascular Center of Excellence to be located in the new Daniel ACC building.
The fifth path is the establishment of strategic partnerships and collaborations locally, regionally and internationally.
The sixth path is an unwavering commitment to the academic and research mission of AUBMC and the FM, in which AUBMC has been and will continue to be a pioneer.
The establishment of the Daniel ACC, the first facility in the region to focus on patient care, education and research, is a groundbreaking step towards the realization of the 2020 Vision and aligns with our mission as an academic medical center.
The new 30,000-square-meter building will enhance AUB’s clinical, academic and research capabilities and will create an environment that enables high-performance academic medicine by combining aspects of the Faculty of Medicine and the Hariri School of Nursing with outpatient programs in one building.
The Daniel ACC is projected to have 9 floors and house 3 state-of-the-art educational centers, numerous outpatient clinics, a same day surgery floor, as well as 5 levels of underground parking.
The 25th of September 2012 was a monumental day under the AUB sun. One that will be followed, certainly, by many more, asserting time and time again, this institution’s leadership role in health care delivery, education and research; and its uncontested position as an epicenter of medical research and specializations, catering specifically and particularly to the people of Lebanon and the region.