King Faisal hospital targets better services, profits despite challenges

Tuesday October 10 2017

The management of Rwanda’s biggest national referral — King Faisal Hospital —  has been handed to an Angola-based company. PHOTO | FILE

The management of Rwanda’s biggest national referral — King Faisal Hospital — was handed to an Angola-based company. PHOTO | FILE 

By IVAN R. MUGISHA
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The managers of Rwanda's referral hospital King Faisal Hospital, Oshen Healthcare, say they are focused on overcoming the current challenges facing the hospital, which are affecting the quality of the services offered.

In January, the government sold the management rights of the hospital to Angola-based company, Oshen Healthcare Rwanda Ltd, a subsidiary of Oshen Group Sociedade Anonima (Anonymous Society) for Rwf17 billion ($23 million).

Since then, the hospital has endured a tough restructuring process that saw retrenchment of 78 workers, while those who remained told Rwanda Today that their workload had been increased without corresponding hikes in their salary.

The quality of the services offered at the 160-bed hospital also declined when the private management took over. The hospital’s clinic continuously lacked several drugs while waiting lines became longer.

However, the hospital’s management said these are birthing pains that will eventually disappear as the hospital starts making profits.

The management is optimistic that the parastatal will not only become a national centre of excellence but also a regional referral hospital.

Carlos Malet, the managing director of Oshen Health Care Rwanda, said the first year has been dedicated to reorganising and restructuring the management of the hospital, with infrastructural changes expected to take shape next year.

“Oshen has plans for a big project that will span five years and will see investments in new facilities, equipment and specialists. This first year is focused on managing the transition from public to private management. Infrastructural work will start in the second year,” he told Rwanda Today.

“We are going to renovate the hospital’s facilities and its image. We will introduce new surgery rooms, and a new polyclinic outside the main hospital’s infrastructure. The main hospital will be used for hospitalisation services,” he added.

New ICT system

By 2018, the management will look at implementing a new ICT system at the hospital, new website, reduce waiting lines and improve service delivery, Mr Malet said.

The hospital also hired seven full-time specialists this year, including neurosurgeons, gynaecologists, pathologists, paediatricians and cardiologists.

This is on top of six overseas medical expeditions at the hospital this year.

However, concerns were raised over Oshen Health Care Rwanda’s ability to revamp King Faisal Hospital due to the group’s unfamiliar track record in managing hospitals.

But Mr Malet said that although King Faisal Hospital is the group’s first hospital management project, the firm has enough expertise in developing the facility and improving the medical services offered while working closely with the government.

The group contracted Joaquin Bielsa to be the hospital’s CEO. He has 25 years experience in managing hospitals in Europe and South America and has also worked with USP Hospital.

“We contracted him because of his experience and he has worked for some of the largest medical groups. This is a new project for us we started it by getting healthcare experts and executives from around the world,” said Mr Malet.

Oshen Group S.A also owns a clinic in Angola but has plans to expand beyond Angola and Rwanda. It is in negotiations with different governments to manage hospitals in 10 other African countries.

“Currently we only have active projects in Angola and Rwanda. We are planning to manage three more hospitals in Angola, valued at $300 million. By the end of this year, we could be in three other countries — Mali, Madagascar and Morocco. By 2018, we should be in other countries,” said Mr Malet.

He said the hospital’s clients have continued to increase and although there were fears that doctors would have a heavier workload after the restructuring, no specific concerns have been raised.

Training programme

The group is also conducting training programmes for over 100 staff including nurses, doctors and medical students.

So far, Oshen has sent 10 doctors for training in the US, UK, South Africa, Israel and in some African countries.

Oshen Group S.A has also invested in sending a number of nurses for training programmes in India and Canada, including 30 who were offered Masters programme sponsorship.

In July, Oshen presented the results of its first six months managing King Faisal Hospital. The results showed significant progress had been made when compared to results of previous years.

Oshen reported a general increase in medical consultations, a 25 per cent increase in cardiology consultations, represented by 873 consultations in six months against 1,324 recorded the entire 2016.

Dialysis services also increased to an average of 46 patients served per week from 39 patients served per week last year. 

When Oshen took over King Faisal Hospital management, the hospital had a debt of about Rwf300 million ($355,686) in its books, but in July, the hospital reported a financial increase of over 80 per cent by July, although definitive figures were not provided.

The government is expected to review the performance of Oshen Healthcare Rwanda Ltd after five years.