The History of Fordsburg Clinic by Dr Yusuf Bamjee – Chairman of Surgical- Clinical Committee
For the past 25 years, Fordsburg Clinic has been known as the most promising and dynamic community based clinic and health centre in Johannesburg. It has been recognised for providing essential and quality healthcare to the communities of the Johannesburg South Region. During this period the clinic had been constantly reinventing itself, upgrading its clinical facilities and ensuring that it remains a progressive community-based institution serving it patients and the greater community.
In the early 1980’s, a group of specialists had approached the Management of the predominant white private clinics which were located in the south west and central Johannesburg areas, to provide facilities for consulting rooms and theatre usage in the fields of mainly gynaecology and otorhinolaryngology (ENT). Unfortunately this request was declined by them. Considering the disparate private health services available to the non-white population in the Johannesburg area and in particular the non-existence of private healthcare to the vast majority of blacks, the idea of a small community clinic was mooted. Thus Fordsburg Clinic was officially launched in 1985 by a group of dedicated persons, led by the chairman Dr Abdurazak Moti and deputy Mr Ahmed Vaid. The initial groundwork in obtaining a licence was undertaken and the granting of a two theatre and fifteen bed clinical facility was obtained by the Department of Health in 1985/6, with the conditional provision of operational time only as a day clinic. Premises were found centrally in Commercial Road, Fordsburg, Johannesburg, hence the clinic’s name, which to date has become a trademark in the healthcare industry and in the communities of the Gauteng Province Proper floor planning and layout of the Clinic’s facilities over a period of one year was completed with the joint expertise of Mr Ahmed Vaid and Mr Suliman Abed. An entire floor in the Medical Plaza Building was utilised to equip the infrastructure and on the September 1986 the doors to the newly established hospital/clinic was opened to the public. The remaining three floors were utilised for consulting rooms and other health facilities such as radiology, laboratory services, pharmacy – dispensary and audiology
Initial Development and Growth (1986-1999)
The initial period was characterised by a hyperactivity of short-stay gynaecology, ENT, medical/surgical and oral-dental cases. The inclusion of other specialties such as orthopaedics, maxillofacial and gastroenterology were gradually phased in and a significant growth in both the number of cases and number of participating practitioners were noted. During the first decade of operation, the number of practitioners had increased from 15 to 30, which in turn accounted for a gradual increase in the number of cases from approximately 400 to 1329 per annum. By 1997 the clinic reached a plateau point with maximum growth in view of its limited facilities and inadequate time schedules as a day clinic. In addition the clinic by now became a recognised community centre in the Johannesburg South-West Region. Activities such as community health programmes, continuing medical education and staff training skills were limited. Over the next period (1998-2000) a sudden decline in cases was observed due to various difficulties and problems ranging from inadequate space, limited theatre/ward space, limited parking plus security and clinical practice standards.
Despite the rapid changes in healthcare, modern facility-design, medical aid regulation, equipment and demographics, the specific needs of the practitioners have been ill-addressed or even neglected by the directors and shareholders. The time was well overdue to focus on these serious problems and appropriately realign our clinic with other clinics, as well to upgrade the standard of clinical practice in a future expanded new Fordsburg Clinic/Hospital. A firm and well researched “revitalisation and relocation” proposal was first mooted by myself in 1998/1999 and vigorously marketed thereafter. The detailed document was presented to the shareholders and finally accepted in 2000. The clinic was now finally put onto a pathway of dynamic development, growth and most important the start of a vision for a future fully fledged hospital.
Revitalisation and Relocation (2000-2003)
At the beginning of 2000, a project team had been established to undertake the mammoth task of developing the new Fordsburg Clinic. Working documents,, protocols and concept plans were immediately formulated and carefully put into place for the start of the this R20 million initiative, with the proviso of suitable land or premises. The acquisition in 2001 of an existing health facility situated in Selby, within the greater Fordsburg – CBD Johannesburg South Africa area served as a catalyst to start developing and upgrading the premises to a modern clinic. The construction of the new clinic commenced in late 2001 and was completed in a time-frame of twenty months. The completed building floor space measured approximately 3150m² and was adequately located within the 4956m² land space. The overall feature of a two-storey clinic with approximately 80 parking bays, garden layout and service courtyards was designed to accommodate easy access to both the clinic and consulting rooms. Architectural and consultant engineers worked together to develop an innovative community-based clinic with emphasis on aesthetics, adequate service facilities and in-built security. The internal infrastructure equally was furnished with four state-of the art theatres, five spacious wards – housing 30 beds, medical-surgical facilities and multi-disciplinary consulting rooms. Finally special attention was given to colour-décor, lighting, ample ventilation and internal amenities, thus promoting patient-visitor comfort and well-being. On the 24 September 2003 the doors to the newly built Fordsburg Clinic was officially opened to the public. This well known community clinic became a landmark in the Johannesburg South-West area and was accessible to all main roads to and from Johannesburg CBD and surrounding areas. It now was ready to offer a variety of exceptional basic and specialised surgical-medical services to all.
The New Fordsburg Clinic (2003-2011)
In keeping with the principles of revitalisation and providing affordable quality health care, Fordsburg Clinic now takes pride in providing healthcare of an exceptionally high standard to its patients. The beginning of 2004 was the turning point in the history of the clinic. It signified the inception of business corporate governance, restructuring of the clinic hierarchy, new areas of community healthcare and manpower development. Equally the granting of the new licence to operate four fully equipped theatres and five fully furnished wards gave new strength to cater for additional disciplines. Not only could it provide for healthcare to the people of Gauteng, but also to patients from other provinces beyond the borders of South Africa, mainly neighbouring Southern African countries. The clinic now offered comprehensive medical-surgical services in the disciplines of maxillofacial surgery, ophthalmology, otorhinolaryngology, oral-dental surgery, general surgery, gastroenterology, dermatology, gynaecology, orthopaedics and podiatry. The additional provision of services such as radiology, medical laboratory, audiology, anaesthesiology, paediatric medicine, orthodontics, medical acupuncture and podiatry supplemented the scope of healthcare. Gradually over the next 7-8 years the clinic experienced an increase in the number of participating practitioners from 50 to over 120 and despite the limited times per day for operations, the clinic now reached a turnover of approximately 2000 cases per annum. The considerable growth and success of the clinic during the new period, have been attributed to ongoing capital investment, good management, staff skills development, maintenance and infrastructure improvement. The recent initiatives includes community programmes – such as open health days, subsidised surgical procedures (circumcisions, oral-dental, cataracts), continuing professional education and preferred provider partnerships.
The Future Vision
Fordsburg Clinic continues to grow and it aims to render quality healthcare to its patients, in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible. It also aims to establish itself as the best community-based health facility in Southern Africa which in turn could become a model for newer health centres and meaningful public/private partnership programmes. The intention to introduce outpatient surgical procedures (ophthalmology, dermatology), community support services, accredited medical training and home-care nursing depends largely on the granting of new licences for additional beds, extended operating times and practitioner participation. Thus a legacy of continuity for another 25 years would be established.