26 Oct New healthcare facility for eMahlaleni
The continent’s vast natural resources provide for myriad of opportunities. The challenge lies in financing their development, enhancing productivity and improving socio-economic conditions.
“It pays sometimes to be a late entrant into a congested yet competitive market,” believes Wilhem Theunissen. Theunissen who is the CEO of eMalahleni Private Hospital (ePH) – a 100 bed healthcare facility – is the man tasked with growing Mpumalanga’s newest private healthcare facility.
“We have learnt from failures and successes of businesses that have been long in this industry. Our strategy is based on providing a cost effective service that fits into the average income of a middle class eMalahleni resident.”
The most important aspect of ePH’s business case Theunissen argues is that unlike the established players, ePH’s operational structure is not only lean but is nimble enough to respond to the challenges of SA’s unravelling healthcare landscape.
Theunissen and his team’s astuteness in cutting operational overheads is telling in their strategy. As opposed to building a new hospital from the scratch, ePH management opted to lease an old building vacated by a larger rival healthcare group- and management spent close to R21m refurbishing the building into a modern healthcare facility.
The entire project cost R54.5m to which the Industrial Development Corporation provided R23m. ePH is 60% owned by Mandela Street Hospital Management (MSHI) – a hospital management company owned by the promoters of which the main shareholder is Pres Medical Witbank (PMW) and the balance of 40% is owned by Mandela Street Hospital Investments (MSMI) – a group of mainly historically disadvantaged doctors based in eMalahleni. On evidence, Theunissen’s bullish sentiment is no mere marketing bluster. His business case is not only compelling but has the hallmarks of a clearly laid out strategy that’s suitably positioned to cash in on eMalahleni’s burgeoning middle class.
ePH is strategically located close to the taxi rank giving easy access to patients and visitors. “Most medical facilities in this area including, pathology labs, general practitioners and specialists are located in close proximity to our hospital giving us an advantage over our competition.”
However, it’s both the social and economic impact of the project that prompted the IDC to provide funding to the consortium says, Zora Madikizela, the IDC’s healthcare sector business unit (SBU) head.
According to a study commissioned by research body, the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) of South Africa, Mpumalanga has the lowest total number of hospital beds per 1000 population (1.2 compared to the SA average of 2.82). Furthermore has the third-lowest number of private beds per 1 000 population (0.29) compared to the SA average of 0.7.
Says Madikizela: “Given such statistics, you can’t under-estimate the significance of this new healthcare facility. eMalahleni’s 400 000 population is set for a rapid growth against the backdrop of growing residential as well as commercial developments in the area. Since opening to the public in March 2011, ePH now employs 150 permanent staff and the figure is set to rise in the medium to long-term. In addition, ePH has created a further 40 indirect jobs through various service providers to the hospital.
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