CSI Behind the Scenes at Private Hospitals
Some 30 specialist surgeons who operate within Mediclinic hospitals have for five years been helping transform the lives of hundreds of indigent patients by providing badly-needed surgery. Most of the private consultants do the work pro-bono whenever they have extra capacity, and Mediclinic provides their available theatres free of cost. Many of the specialists pro-actively contact Bob Govender, Mediclinic’s Industry Affairs executive charged with coordinating social investment, alerting him to gaps in their busy schedules. “They’re not interested in any publicity, they just want to contribute – there are some amazingly kind and dedicated surgeons out there,” Govender observes. He adds that Mediclinic finds surgery backlogs in partnership with tertiary hospitals, and together they prioritise the most pressing patient needs. Mediclinic then approaches individual private consultants to check their capacity. A memorandum of understanding is signed, ensuring a public hospital bed is available for the patient after the completed procedure at a Mediclinic facility where patients receive full post-operative care at no cost to the State. Surgeries take place across five provinces (KwaZulu Natal, Gauteng, Free State, Western Cape and Limpopo), freeing many children from carrying potentially debilitating ailments into adulthood. Talented but disadvantaged children and young athletes with sports injuries now have access to a fast track Sports Orthopaedic Service as a collaboration between the Orthopaedic Department at Groote Schuur Hospital and the world-renowned Sports Science Institute. This service has partnered with Mediclinic Milnerton, so that patients receive timely and appropriate treatment.
On October 16th this year, World Food Day, Mediclinic became the first corporation in South Africa whose staff (at its Stellenbosch headquarters), voluntarily packed 100 000 specially-designed highly-nutritious meals. The aim next year is to enrol another nine corporations to help push this number to one million meals country-wide. On another note, according to Govender, 2019 was a particularly bad year, with Cyclone Idai killing over 1 300 people, mainly through flooding in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi; and the devastating Knysna and Southern Cape wildfires in June. In such cases, says Govender, Mediclinic helps without hesitation, with related costs excluded from their corporate social responsibility funding
Improving the lives of others is at the core of what we do at Life Healthcare says Tanya Bennets, Group Head of Communication at Life Healthcare. “We believe in contributing to the well-being of the communities in areas that we serve,” she said. The three main areas of focus where our CSI activities make a tangible difference in South Africa are education, community upliftment and health,” she says. In implementing our strategies we are determined to derive a return on investment that serves the country first. Life Foundation programmes are both local and national, with Life Healthcare supportive of the fundamental objective of universal healthcare, which is to extend quality and affordable healthcare to all South Africans, irrespective of their socio-economic status. “We work to ensure that our business contributes to a strong healthcare sector by building a skilled healthcare workforce for tomorrow, including nurse graduates from our nurse training campuses, as well as alleviating the pressures experienced by the public health system,” says Bennetts. Bennetts says the long-term business strategy at Life Healthcare is to be known as a purpose-driven business that drives change and impact in local communities and across the country as a whole.
Life Healthcare has averaged an investment amount of R13m a year for the past six years (total, R78 million) for the training and upskilling of young people in South Africa to be the next generation of medical workers. In addition, the Nursing Education Trust has been established to award nursing bursaries for student nurses. Finally, through the Life Sub-Specialist Training Fund, the enrolment and graduation of medical skills in the critical medical specialities are supported. These three initiatives demonstrate Life Healthcare’s focus on building a strong foundation of medical skills for a healthcare system that is committed to access to quality healthcare for all South Africans.
According to Sharlene Swart from the Netcare Foundation, showing compassion is intrinsic to the human spirit and is the primary principle underpinning the Netcare Foundation. “Throughout our Netcare operations, our people share a deep commitment to serving the public and their immediate communities. Corporate social responsibility is therefore second nature in our organisation,” she says. In partnership with esteemed healthcare professionals, Netcare has been able to provide access to medical procedures for some 4 977 individuals in the past year (2018). Among these procedures are much-needed craniofacial procedures, surgical correction of cleft lip and palate, cochlear implants that enable children to hear and cataract surgery to restore the sight of mainly senior citizens. Also, the company’s Tooth Fairy Project is providing dental care services to children who would otherwise struggle to access the treatment. The Netcare Ncelisa Human Milk Banks are an excellent example of compassionate care, says Swart. Mothers who have delivered babies in Netcare hospitals are encouraged to express their extra milk under strict control measures to be fed to premature babies of a stipulated size and weight. Milk depots are located at all Netcare hospitals with maternity units and milk banks are now situated at five Netcare hospitals. Just more than 1 000 premature babies have received the nourishment they need.
Netcare head office staff chose to support El Shammah, a home for abandoned babies in Primrose, Germiston for Mandela Day 2018. Each department at head office was asked to bring certain items requested on the El Shammah list with staff taking time to pack all items into boxes for a delegation of eight volunteers to deliver to the home before spending time with the little children. Aside from these children, during 2018, the Netcare Foundation notes that its programmes have touched 52 193 people through community sponsorships; 53 991 emergency indigent patients, 8 887 sexual assault victims, and 1 198 people through awarded bursaries and study grants.
Melomed Private Hospitals, a National Hospital Network (NHN) member, operates five private hospitals in South Africa. These hospitals service approximately 5 million members of the previously disadvantaged community who often exhibit needs that the rest of society takes for granted. Lack of numeracy, literacy, proper nutrition and recreational amenities to name a few, are such examples.
Over the years that Melomed Private Hospitals has operated in these disadvantaged communities, our company has become increasingly aware of these needs and has whenever possible, made interventions to alleviate some of those needs to a certain degree. Melomed Private Hospitals finds it necessary to develop a social responsibility programme that serves the communities, as it feels it incumbent that it ploughs back some of the benefits derived from the surrounding society.
By assisting in improving the quality of life for those less fortunate, it will be helping to forge a more equitable and a less discriminatory South African society. Melomed Private Hospitals is in the fortunate position that is has built up considerable experience in promoting and conducting social responsibility initiatives through various health awareness programmes.
Lenmed partners with not-for-profit organisations to improve services, ranging from the Children’s Cardiac Foundation of Africa to orphanages in Maputo, breast cancer units in Botswana, and nursing homes for the elderly and retirement village-supporting organisations in Randfontein. Says Lenmed Health, Marketing Manager, Michelle Naidoo, “We’re very community-based and focused, in that each hospital’s focuses on the needs of its community.” For instance, the Zamokuhle Private Hospital in Tembisa, in partnership with local businesses, earlier this year offered education and career days, taking local school pupils on guided tours of the facility. Also, Wellness Days providing free screening and testing was an outreach feature of all Lenmed hospitals, with specialists providing free back-up services. Additionally, doctors and specialists working at the Gaborone hospital frequently use their private vehicles or motorbikes to travel to remote areas to offer Wellness Days, in partnership with a local breast cancer NGO. Their objective is to sponsor preventative measures, build awareness, and initiate treatment where needed. The group also provides an aeromedical helicopter service in partnership with IPSS Medical Rescue, covering the entire KwaZulu Natal province. Two private ambulance companies also work in collaboration with Lenmed Health to transport patients from throughout the region to its hospitals in Durban and Ladysmith. Special pro-bono arrangements are available on an ongoing basis for indigent patients who need urgent or life-changing services, across the full range of disciplines.
According to Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Amil Devchand, Lenmed Health is a private hospital group with origins unlike any other peer hospital outfit in South Africa. That’s because serving the most pressing demographic needs of the country is built into its very DNA. A small group of doctors raised money to build its’ first hospital in the low-income area of Lenasia, Gauteng in 1984 where no hospitals stood. Since then, nine versions of the modern 300-bed Ahmed Kathrada Private Hospital in Lenasia, (up from 47 beds as constructed in 1985), are dotted around some of the most underserved healthcare areas of the country, with one in Botswana and one in Mozambique.