A boost for SA healthcare

A boost for SA healthcare

As the Covid-19 pandemic rages on, the need for well-maintained, fully functioning hospitals and clinics is in the spotlight. Pandemics and disasters aside, experts agree that healthcare is a mega-trend around the world.

“We see more personal and public resources being spent on healthcare today than ever before,” says Lydia Hendricks, business development director of the AFMS Group (Pty) Ltd and its subsidiary FM Solutions – a privately owned company that provides specialist facilities management (FM) services to the built environment throughout Southern Africa.

“Ageing populations, an increased focus on preventive health, growing affluence and technological advancements in the medical world are all contributing to a growing influx of patients in hospitals and healthcare facilities.”

Why outsourcing makes sense

Traditionally, hospitals functioned with their own in-house FM or maintenance teams. Progressive hospitals, however, are changing this approach by outsourcing the services in order to streamline their operations, improve efficiencies and unlock savings.

“Around the world, it has become a growing trend for hospital administrators of public and private hospitals to outsource their FM duties to specialist companies who are able to coordinate a large group of different team members and services,” Hendricks explains. “South Africa is slowly but surely following suit, as decision-makers realise the many benefits that are afforded to them when they partner with a FM service provider.”

Typically, for hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities, FM covers a wide range of services and activities. This includes the close monitoring of how high-value assets in the hospitals are used, ensuring around-the-clock access to technical expertise and maintenance services, improving workplace flow and streamlining daily services to support the institution.

High expectations of public hospitals

FM Solutions opened its doors in 2002. In 2014 it was called upon to assist the Eastern Cape Department of Health with conditions audits, provide maintenance solutions and introduce small, micro and medium enterprise (SMME) development initiatives at 343 of its provincial medical facilities.

“The stakes and expectations are high for public hospitals, which have to comply with legislation such as the Government Immovable Asset Management Act (GIAMA) and the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA),” Hendricks points out. “AFMS has experience in this field and was brought on board to offer support to Eastern Cape hospitals where capacity was lacking.”

This project gave the company’s team of FM experts first-hand exposure to the unique challenges hospitals face in their day-to-day operations and the valuable role they can play when it comes to delivering technical support, bolstering business and taking control of the day-to-day running of support services.

Delivering integrated FM services to Western Cape hospitals

Recently, FM Solutions formed a joint venture company – the Lentegeur Facilities Management Solutions (LFMS) – specifically for the on-site management of certain facilities management services at the Lentegeur Psychiatric Hospital and Western Cape Rehabilitation Centre in Mitchells Plain, Cape Town.

In addition, FM Solutions has taken over the management of some facilities at the Hospital of Hope – the temporary hospital constructed at the Cape Town International Convention Centre and the biggest Covid-19 field hospital in Africa.

Kevin Stasch, key account manager at LFMS, confirms that the remit is to manage specific support services needed to make the hospital run smoothly. This includes the cleaning of wards, landscaping and estate maintenance, catering, laundry and handyman services.

“We are passionate about job creation and empowering SMMEs from the area,” explains Stasch. “For this reason, we outsource certain tasks to local service providers once clear service level agreements are in place. We are also responsible for appointing staff and overseeing highly technical, specialist repairs, for example catering or maintaining medical equipment.”

Outsourcing can lead to better care

“Outsourcing the management of support services to an FM service provider makes sense for hospitals, as it allows them access to flexible, agile and efficient service coordination and business support,” says Hendricks. “Because hospital administrators no longer have to spend their time managing maintenance or support staff, they are free to focus their attention on the organisational tasks required for running the facility and caring for patients.”

She adds that doctors and nursing staff also feel empowered to perform their jobs optimally, as the environment is clean, safe and well maintained, and downtime and disruptions are kept to a minimum. “Visitors and patients benefit from receiving better care and the entire treatment process becomes a more enjoyable and humane experience. We believe this helps to create a win-win situation for all the parties involved!”

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