SA’s youngest hos­pi­tal CEO

Vuk'uzenzele - - Health - Amuke­lani Chauke

De­sPIte Be­ING in her early 30s, CEO Dr Nok­wethemba Mt­shali-Hadebe has plans to turn Bertha Gx­owa Hos­pi­tal into one of the finest in the coun­try.

the first thing that Dr Nok­wethemba Mt­shali-Hadebe – South Africa’s youngest hos­pi­tal CEO – does when she gets to Bertha Gx­owa Hos­pi­tal every morn­ing is walk through the health­care fa­cil­ity to get a sense of the chal­lenges that need to be ad­dressed.

She then meets with staff in the re­spec­tive wards to di­ag­nose is­sues that need ad­dress­ing, be it long queues, staff at­ti­tude or staff morale, with the aim of turn­ing the sit­u­a­tion around and im­prov­ing the pa­tient ex­pe­ri­ence.

This is but one of sev­eral ap­proaches to ser­vice de­liv­ery that Dr Mt­shali-Hadebe took af­ter be­ing per­ma­nently ap­pointed CEO at age 31.

Af­ter do­ing her walk­a­bout and an­swer­ing ur­gent emails, she then moves on to exco meet­ings, be­fore con­duct­ing per­for­mance re­views and coach­ing ses­sions with the hos­pi­tal’s man­agers.

In an in­ter­view with

and as the coun­try com­mem­o­rates Women’s Month, Dr Mt­shali-Hadebe said since be­com­ing CEO, she has fo­cused her at­ten­tion on im­prov­ing the over­all pa­tient ex­pe­ri­ence by in­vest­ing in staff coach­ing.

Tack­ling Chal­lenges

She said the hos­pi­tal’s main chal­lenges had to do with long queues or wait­ing times – which is a Min­is­te­rial pri­or­ity – as well as staff at­ti­tudes.

“I found a very glar­ing en­vi­ron­ment of em­ploy­ees who were not en­gaged. The or­gan­i­sa­tional cul­ture of the hos­pi­tal had to be changed be­cause when em­ploy­ees are en­gaged, they be­come more pro­duc­tive and that re­sults in bet­ter pa­tient ex­pe­ri­ences and im­proved clin­i­cal out­comes.”

She said that the per­cep­tion that pub­lic hos­pi­tal pa­tients don’t get treated well needs to be changed and that ne­ces­si­tates a change in staff at­ti­tude.

To achieve this, she in­tro­duced merit awards for in­di­vid­ual staffers and teams from dif­fer­ent wards. Em­ploy­ees are recog­nised for go­ing be­yond the call of duty.

Prior to be­ing ap­pointed CEO in May last year, Dr Mt­shali-Hadebe, a Univer­sity of KwaZulu-Natal grad­u­ate, acted in the po­si­tion for a year in 2015. She pre­vi­ously worked for Met­ro­pol­i­tan Life be­fore tak­ing up a po­si­tion as a clin­i­cal man­ager for the Far East Rand Hos­pi­tal.

She said the past year has been a jour­ney for her, not only in terms of per­sonal de­vel­op­ment, but how the hos­pi­tal has changed the way it op­er­ates.

“I am happy to say that we have re­duced the num­ber of com­plaints di­rected at the hos­pi­tal by deal­ing with com­plaints as and when they hap­pen. Also, we have been able to re­duce the num­ber of com­plaints re­lated to staff at­ti­tudes,” she said, adding that they are, how­ever, not yet where they need to be.

Dr Mt­shali-Hadebe said that when she started out, she had to prove that she could steer the ship in the right di­rec­tion de­spite her age. Now, her ca­pa­bil­i­ties are now ac­cepted and she is free to fo­cus her at­ten­tion on work­ing with man­age­ment to en­sure that they in­sti­tu­tion­alise the hos­pi­tal’s vi­sion and are able to im­part it to the staff com­ple­ment of just over 700 peo­ple.

Dr Nok­wethemba Mt­shali-Hadebe aims to im­prove the pa­tient ex­pe­ri­ence.

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