Africa Outlook profiles Pietermaritzburg's Daymed Medical Centre and Private Hospital, the realisation of one man's dream.
Writer Ian Armitage
Project manager Eddie Clinton
In 2004 The Daymed Medical Centre and Private Hospital opened its doors. The facility is the realisation of a dream of Dr Navind Dayanand, who has used his own money to set up it up. And he's doing a fantastic job.
"We employ 120 staff and have 85 beds, casualty, general and semi private wards, maternity, renal dialysis, an operating theatre, x-ray, ICU, ambulance services and much more," Dr Dayanand explains. "It has taken a lot of resilience, hard work and determination."
Dr Dayanand is one of the most respected doctors in Pietermaritzburg and the hospital was born from a determination to "do something better".
"I wanted to have a small hospital basically and we've kept on growing," he says. "How has it changed? I initially founded a medical centre and it grew significantly leading to the opening of a hospital, initially 22 beds and it increased and increased over time. And the range of medical services has also expanded."
In the last 12 months the hospital has performed "very well" with ward occupancy at "about 93 percent". It has now embarked on an extension which will see the number of beds rise to 215.
"We are extending the hospital now to almost 100 beds more," says Dr Dayanand. "The building has commenced already and it is a multimillion-rand expansion. It is a modern hospital with better facilities and catering for the needs of today."
He loves the challenge of running his own hospital. "You get to do everything and I've been able to put my own imprint on everything. I think we can be more creative too and have a family-like atmosphere. Of course, decision-making is more straightforward and swift, so we can be nimble. Basically all hospitals in South Africa are run by corporate companies. I am one of the few that runs my own hospital. I have to watch over everything."
But Dr Dayanand wouldn't want to take all the credit for the hospital's success. "The biggest thing is having the right staff," he says. But, getting "the right people" especially as the hospital expands will be challenging. "We have a problem with nursing staff and we've actually been going to India to get them," Dr Dayanand admits.
In March, South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi unveiled a national strategic plan aimed at rebuilding and revitalising the nursing profession.
The National Strategic Plan for Nurse Education, Training and Practice was developed by a task team appointed by Motsoaledi following the 2011 Nursing Summit, which identified the main challenges facing the country's nursing profession.
The plan seeks to promote high quality training along with high standards of professionalism and well resourced practice environments for nurses and midwives.
It also aims to ensure strong leadership at all levels of nursing and midwifery practice, as well as the training of the number of nurses required to deliver healthcare services in the country.
It will take time and a short to medium term solutions was needed. "There aren't adequate nurses trained in South Africa and those that are trained are moving abroad, going to the Arab countries," admits Dr Dayanand. "They are tempted to leave for financial gain. There are better paid jobs there, better conditions and less infectious diseases.
"We've had to recruit from India because of the shortage of qualified professionals here. Also, I trained in India and qualified there and Indians have a high work ethic, while the standards are excellent. Until we get sufficient numbers of nurses coming out of training institutions we will likely continue recruiting from overseas. Their arrival in South Africa has and will ease the burden of South African nurses battling staff shortages."
Daymed's ongoing expansion, which will be complete in 2014, will help position it for the future, especially in the fast-changing healthcare landscape in South Africa where healthcare can be divided into private and public – the haves and have nots, essentially.
"There is stark difference between public and private healthcare in South Africa; no more so than when looking at the facilities on offer," admits Dr Dayanand.
It is amazing that in a country of 49 million people less than nine million are covered by health insurance, referred to as medical schemes.
The public healthcare system is characterised by run-down buildings, missing medication and widespread corruption, and not a day passes without a story about broken equipment leading to deaths or facilities closing because they cannot afford to pay their creditors.
The private healthcare system is a world apart. It has world-class facilities, the most advanced equipment and the best doctors. The result is that the quality of private care is much better than that offered in the public healthcare system.
Of course, the National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme has been proposed as a way of addressing the balance.
It has yet to be made law.
"The Government says it is not intended to destroy the private sector believing it will make the sector more sustainable by making it levy reasonable fees," says Dr Dayanand. "It is being piloted and it will impact all hospitals. We will need all available beds. The national health will give healthcare access to everyone. How will we position for that? We are quite well adjusted and will be able to provide care to more patients in the NHI once our expansion has finished. Demand for hospital beds is great. Hospitals have a shortage of beds and there aren't enough to cater for the population."
The Daymed Medical Centre and Private Hospital is an ultra-modern private and registered hospital which offers a "full and comprehensive range of medical services to all sectors of the community at affordable prices". From its inception, a spirit of caring, dedication and community involvement has become its hallmark.
"We're well known for our quality and we are popular," says Dr Dayanand. "Our modern architecturally designed building creates an ambience of friendliness and warmth and certainly adds a new dimension to what we offer. Those principles will remain in the expansion."
It is personal attention that sets Daymed Private Hospital apart from its competitors; Dr Dayanand is keen to maintain that.
"What's the secret to our success? Hard work, dedication and hands on management," he concludes.
The hospital is staffed by a handpicked team of experienced hospital management team and nursing staff who together have spent many years in the nursing field.
To learn more visit www.daymed.net.