Community Social Responsibility
The beginning of the Fordsburg Clinic in 1986 was based on two sound principles, which launched an initiative into healthcare for the greater Witwatersrand Communities. The first being the provision of medical – surgical facilities for “non-white” practitioners who were restricted from practicing at the predominantly “white” affluent clinics in the Johannesburg Region. The second principle offered meaningful and affordable treatment to the disadvantaged communities together with other support services so as to improve the well-being of the local communities.
For more than two decades, the clinic had rendered a successful subsidized program to mainly poor, destitute and orphan children of all races. This surgical program was initially introduced by Dr Essop Jassat and Dr Rashid Dhoola and gradually established in the following years to include many other general practitioners. Donations which were received from both the local businesses and general public were used to fund the cost of the procedure and the nominal theatre fees. To date the circumcision programme is still being continued and a new structured partnership with the Sultan Bahu organization and various practitioners is being developed for the future.
The establishment of the new Fordsburg Clinic in 2003 also signaled the introduction of a special tariff schedule for elderly and indigent patients to undertake surgical procedures which include maxillofacial and oral surgery, ophthalmology (cataracts, minor ocular pathology), tonsillectomies, dental procedures, GIT scopes and general surgical procedures. This subsidization program has earned the clinic the unique recognition as being a people’s community hospital, especially in the Gauteng Province. Inadequate public services at the regional hospitals have now increased the demand for meaningful public-private partnerships and groups such as Sultan Bahu, JISWA, Harvey Cohen and Discovery Health are formulating guidelines for these services.
Open Day Programme
The clinic has successfully hosted open day functions over the past 8 years. This yearly event is jointly managed and facilitated by the staff, public volunteers and various practitioners. Public participation has increased and patients are assisted through all the screening venues to undergo various tests and examinations ranging from blood glucose, blood pressure, cholesterol testing, vision and hearing tests, oral-dental screening, podiatry assessment and dietary lifestyle guidelines. Detailed statistics were thereafter recorded and documented by the management on a dedicated data base. This popular wellness program has received broad media coverage as well as publication in the Mammas and Pappas magazine as well as the local community newspapers. The clinic hopes to introduce a bi-annual health-open day program for the benefit of more people in the Johannesburg Metropolitan area and broader Gauteng region.
Education And Training
The New Fordsburg Clinic has recently introduced a staff-wellness and skills development program, which involves the regular training, motivation an upgrading of specific staff-skills in line with the growth of the many surgical disciplines being practiced at the clinic. Equally, continuing medical and surgical seminars, lectures and talks are offered to the large number of practitioners, in the newly built conference room. Accreditation for these CPD-CME programs is obtained from the University of the Witwatersrand – Faculty of Health Sciences as well as the Professional Medical-Dental Associations. In addition the clinic has earned the recognition for facilitating and training both medical and dental students who are on rotation for their electives in anaesthesia, maxillofacial and -oral surgery, dental surgery and in general surgery. Finally, articles on health issues have been published in the various community newspapers as part of a broader health education initiative to the public.
Medical facilities render an invaluable service to communities by availing to them the opportunity of consulting (and being treated) by medical practitioners across the spectrum of medicine. It would thus appear that by its very nature, a facility such as the Fordsburg Clinic is already fulfilling its ethical corporate responsibility to society. However it has gone beyond that duty.
Recognizing that the investors in this facility are from previously disenfranchised and often disadvantaged communities, it has been imperative that management needed to and still needs to invest in the wellbeing of the less fortunate in our society.
The Fordsburg Clinic, in addressing this issue has engaged several programs over the years.
Open Days have been held intermittently over the years, with a firm push over the last two years to see it become a permanent fixture on the events calendar. These open days have been well attended by the public with attendance figures averaging around seven hundred. The public has been treated to free blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol tests; dental and medical advice; ophthalmological examinations and hearing assessments. Paramedical and alternate therapeutic intervention practitioners have also lent their services to these highly successful community outreach days.
Over the years, the Clinic has recognized the need to assist budding medical and dental students in their quest to pursue the study of medicine and dentistry, by affording them the opportunity to observe surgical procedures in the theatre setting accompanied by professional advice and encouragement from surgeons and anaesthetists alike. This has been welcomed by our supporting communities and the Clinic is thus a sort-after facility for this type of advocacy.
Several religious organisations requests to assist with male circumcisions have been fulfilled on a subsidised basis with several indigent patients been accommodated on a gratis basis. Recently there have been discussions with a charitable organisation to assist with a cataract and circumcision programme. This venture is being received favourably by the current management and will further entrench the Fordsburg Clinic’s commitment to its community participation and social responsibility.
A society whose disease profile is changing and whose morals are increasingly challenged will need the support and resources of a medical facility that is striving to be a centre of excellence. Fordsburg Clinic is well placed for this as it is bound to the communities that it supports and it is imperative that it sustains its involvement in this society.