Khomas Medical Centre has come of age being one of the oldest and well managed private practices in Namibia. Currently KMC has four medical practices around Windhoek seeing up to 6000 patients per month. Dr Christo Burger, the Managing Partner who has been with the group for the past 12 years, shares the secrets behind their success.
Q: You are one of the oldest medical practices serving up to 6000 patients per month. How have you evolved over time to stay in the forefront of development?
A: Firstly, we can proudly say that during the past 25 years and still today we are blessed with very loyal, skilled and hardworking doctors, who are willing to serve all. Also, we are definitely continuously looking for new opportunities in the medical industry, and are trying to stay upfront with changing patient’s needs and technology.
We stick to our core principles at all times, as we are here to serve the community of Namibia. And most of all, we have a large group of loyal and dedicated patients, who make it easy to stay upfront.
Q: How can you describe Khomas Medical Centre?
A: KMC is a multi-disciplinary practice, with a dynamic, young and energetic team which is striving on a daily basis to serve all its patients to ensure healthy (…in more than one sense…) long term relationships.
Q: What does it take to run a practice with an impeccable record?
A: Dedication, loyalty, commitment and belief in the cause by all members of the team, striving for continuous improvement; discipline in all actions.
Q: Who are your clients?
A: As a family practice, we are serving a wide spectrum of patients – from those seeking primary health care to those looking for aesthetic medicine. In other word, we cater for all Namibians. We have our main practice in Khomasdal, one practice called Saunderson down the road in Khomasdal, one in the City Centre at Carl List Mall, another one in Klein Windhoek and recently opened one in Olympia. So KMC is in every corner of Windhoek and if you visit any of our branches you will be able to see a doctor and are assured that our core values are adhered to.
Q: In general, how important is access to quality health care to an average person and how are you meeting this need as a medical practice?
A: For people in need, access is very important. As a huge part of community are working mothers, they for example, only realise after returning from work in the evenings that their children are sick and need medical care. In most cases, they are dependent on public transport, and thus it is desirable that it is fairly easy for them to get to a health facility that can assist as a “one-stop-shop”. In other words, the mother with the sick child does not need to catch another taxi to for example get the necessary medicine for her child.
We are not only open to the patients until 22h00 every evening (weekends and public holidays included), but while we only charge the prescribed medical aid part payments, we have geared our business to ensure comprehensive treatment for the patients to make life easier for our patients, when things are difficult. If you are sick, you are not in a good mood, you want to know the truth effectively as well as cost effectively. Therefore at KMC we stick to the basic principles of medical aid by making sure we respond to the needs of our patients promptly and cost effectively.
Q: How affordable is health in Namibia and what are your thoughts about the National Health Insurance soon to be introduced?
A: I have been to Zambia, a country which for 49 years provided free health for all. This caused what the Ministry of Health calls the dependency syndrome. In other words, the public leans on the government to provide them with free access to good health care in time of need. However, the need is so large, that government institutions are not able to adequately assist all.
Currently, my feeling is that if a country is not sufficiently prepared to see masses and provide each patient with quality health care, there is definitely a need for private health care to assist with the demand of sick people seeking help.
Q: What kind of problems are people presenting?
A: My patient’s problems are confidential…Namibia’s health profile is similar to that of the rest of the world, with Western Lifestyle diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes, HIV/ Aids, cancer, being common amongst our patients.
Q: Your practice has 4 satellite practices can you tell us a bit about ideas of these initiatives and the value they bring to your practice?
A: With the opening of our fourth practice in Olympia, we are covering the wider spectrum and most of the suburbs of Windhoek. As part of our motto “Accessible Quality Health Care”, we are trying to bring medical services to the people, in other words, to cause minimum efforts and discomfort for patients to receive assistance at a practice near to their home, schools, work place, etc.
Each practice focuses on a special field, for example, our Klein Windhoek practice assists to satisfy aesthetics needs in addition to general health care, while the Carl List Practice looks after the working community of the CBD.
Q: Can you tell us the make-up of your professional team?
A: We currently are nine qualified General Practitioners, with special interests in different fields of General Medicine. Also, the building hosts three specialists, while Registered and Enrolled Nurses support the Doctors. In the background, we have a team of experienced support staff assisting with the administration.
Q: What kind of health profiles are you dealing with, and what health trends are worrying you, which you feel need urgent attention by all stakeholders?
A:As explained earlier, in general Namibians are more and more presenting lifestyle diseases at younger ages, which may be due to higher work and financial stressors, more office jobs with less physical movement, working mothers; availability of convenience and fast foods, etc.
Thus, my advice would be to all; at all age groups; to visit their General Practitioner regularly to ensure that any threats are picked up early and managed actively and preventatively. Preventative medicine is a buzz word nowadays, you don’t need to wait until you get a heart attack to seek medical help.
Q: What is your relationship with the Government, particularly the Ministry of Health and Social Services?
A: In life, nothing is possible without a good and healthy relationship between you and the important decision makers and role players of an economy or business sector and industry. As Khomas Medical Centre, we have a very healthy relationship, which includes regular communication and consultation when the need exists. Also, I am a member of the Namibian Medicine Regulatory Council (NMRC).
Q: The shortage of Namibian trained medical practitioners, particularly specialists, how are you closing on the skills gap to meet the needs of your patients?
A: As a proud and patriotic Namibian, it will always be my vision to help fellow Namibians to become the best in the world. Therefore, we are obviously striving to recruit Namibian Medical Practitioners, which is not always possible.
However, we can proudly announce that we have sponsored a Namibian female doctor, to finish her studies at the University of Stellenbosch. She is currently busy with her internship at the State Hospitals in Windhoek. Also, we are giving a bursary to another Namibia Male Student, who has just started his 3rd year studies at the University of Namibia.
Q: What excites you about the medical field?
A: To determine on a daily basis, what are the needs and fears of patients, and to give possible solutions to them, which are accessible and cost effective. Also, I am excited about the day to day changes to stay ahead of developments in the field.
Q: What can we expect from you as a practice?
A: We will strive to maintain and establish new practices in line with our motto “accessible quality healthcare”. We are definitely looking for new ventures in other parts of Namibia, and also in neighboring countries.
Q: Is there any information you want the public to know about your practice?
A: We are here to serve the people of the entire country and patients must feel free to visit any of our practices at all times and to provide us with positive critique to help us in giving you (the country of Namibia) the best medical service ever. PF