Niresh Bechan - I want every patient to leave this hospital happy

Niresh Bechan - I want every patient to leave this hospital happy
Niresh Bechan:General Manager at Lenmed Ethekwini Hospital and Heart Centre

NIRESH BECHAN, an accountant by profession, didn't choose the healthcare industry; he had planned to be a chartered accountant. But life doesn't always go according to plan, and after completing his B Com degree at the University of Durban-Westville (now the University of KwaZulu-Natal), Bechan accepted a job as a management accountant for a hospital. Looking back twenty years later, things definitely worked out well and he wouldn't change a thing.

His first job was working in a small, independent hospital, but after gaining some experience, he joined a major South African hospital group and moved into the corporate world. Bechan began to take a great interest in the clinical side of the business, and rapidly moved into general management within the group.

When the Ethekwini Hospital and Heart Centre opened nine years ago, Bechan was recruited as general manager. The Lenmed Health Group became the majority shareholders of the hospital in 2017.

Bechan's responsibilities range from the pharmacy to facilities management, and from patient care to finance - and he relishes every challenge. Every day is different and the work that the hospital does makes a significant impact on people's lives, so it's something that matters deeply to him.

The Lenmed Ethekwini Hospital and Heart Centre is highly specialised with a top-notch clinical team across a range of specialties. The hospital's numerous accolades include being a paediatric and adult heart, stroke, and renal dialysis centre of excellence. "Many of our patients are critically ill, and this drives what we do, and how we do it. They could be suffering from anything from cardiac failure to a deep vein thrombosis, and our patients often need urgent, specialised care."

The hospital offers a complete spectrum of surgical, maternity and paediatric services with seven state of the art theatres, including a neuro-operating theatre, as well as an entire floor dedicated to the cardiac centre of excellence. Lenmed Ethekwini Hospital and Heart Centre is the only private hospital offering paediatric cardiac surgery in KwaZulu-Natal. The facility is unique with a multidisciplinary 14-member team representing 10 paediatric sub-disciplines.

Bechan relates that they recently operated on a three hour old baby, who simply would not have survived without the surgery. "We literally give life to people, and this inspires me to strive every day to do the best we can for our patients."

He is proud to have been part of the hospital's growth. He says that while he aspires to lead the best hospital, giving their patients the best possible care, the most important things are to give their patients a chance to live, and to improve their quality of life.

"Our doctors are handpicked, and our nursing staff is highly specialised, and they have strict protocols to measure clinical outcomes," says Bechan. Management tracks each patient's satisfaction and quality of care, from their initial visit to the doctor, through the admission process right through to discharge from the hospital. "I want every patient to leave this hospital happy," he says.

It is not surprising then that Lenmed Ethekwini Hospital and Heart Centre was voted one of KZN's top five and SA's top 20 hospitals by Discovery Health patients for 'Best Patient Experience of Hospital Care'.

The Clinical Governance Process, established by Bechan, forms part of the hospital's risk management strategy. This includes a monthly management meeting to assess the results of all tracking research and to institute any necessary steps to improve the patients' experiences. Mortality meetings are also held with doctors, in line with international best practice, as a way of reviewing and improving clinical practice.

Running a hospital can be extremely stressful, but Bechan is calm and collected under pressure. "Our patients and their families are under enormous strain, and if we can help relieve their anxieties with compassion and care, with sophisticated technology that gives them the best chance of a positive clinical outcome, and with doctors and specialists with impeccable skills, that will go a long way to helping them deal with their personal circumstances."

He attributes the success of Lenmed Ethekwini Hospital and Heart Centre to a strong team, and state of the art clinical facilities. When asked about his management philosophy, he replied that people need to be given the opportunity to grow and he has a keen interest in mentoring those who are committed to hospital management.

In his free time, Bechan is a keen jogger and has just completed his first Two Oceans Half Marathon. He also enjoys golf, which helps him de-stress. He says that managing his time is a vital part of his approach, and he regularly spends a couple of hours meditating at his ashram on a Sunday evening, to revitalise, recharge and prepare for the week ahead.

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