Like most hospitals, Tokollo District Hospital in the Fezile Dabi district of the Free State, has challenges with shortage of staff and very strict budgets. However, being a small hospital located in the farming town of Heilbron has worked to the hospital’s advantage, as it is not over-burdened with an influx of patients. The hospital currently has 78 beds and only 50 are in use. This has meant that both management and staff have had time to put more effort into driving the quality of care in the hospital. It is for this quality of care that the hospital has received international standards accreditation from the Council for Health Service Accreditation of Southern Africa.
‘This accreditation for me and the hospital is actually a great achievement. It will actually motivate the staff to do more. We are here for patients’ care, so it’s important for us to maintain the standards that are set for us as an institution’, says Sesi Noge CEO of Tokollo District Hospital.
For accreditation purposes, COHSASA evaluated the hospital against about 3 000 criteria, which included clinical aspects such as pharmaceutical, radiographic and dietetic services. Tokollo scored 80 out of a total of 100 in all aspects.
‘This hospital has met standards that you find in a top private hospital. It meets all those standards in terms of safety. Lots of people often misunderstand quality. They think it’s a choice of meals, carpets in the foyer’¦ It’s not about that, it’s about patient safety. This hospital meets international requirements for safety’, says Marilyn Keegan communications manager at COHSASA.
‘There are many challenges in public hospitals and one of the main challenges would be staff. They don’t have enough employees, for example, and quality often suffers. Having said that, Tokollo Hospital is no different. It also has challenges with staff numbers that are not adequate, but it has achieved accreditation status and it says a lot about how the hospital team works together, making sure that despite their challenges that are no different from other district hospitals, they still drive the agenda of quality forward’, adds Dr Ziyanda Vundle, Informatics Manager for COHSASA .
The hospital management says the staff deserves praise as they have worked hard to drive quality improvement and the accreditation process.
‘Our biggest assets in the hospital are the people we are working with, especially the staff. I think the buy-in and the pride of the staff in taking care and looking after the hospital as if it’s their own’¦ I think that’s where we hit the right note’, says Dr. Mosebi Thejane the head of clinical services.
Hospital CEO, Sesi Noge, echoed Thejane’s words.
‘It’s actually important for a manager to be visible at all times’¦ you take the rounds and where they have excelled, you actually praise your staff and say, ‘this is good work done’, says Noge.
Tokollo Hospital is part and parcel of its community. It’s seen as a natural meeting point for staff, patients and community members. This has also worked to the hospital’s advantage in improving quality of care.
‘The community around managed to participate in the improvement because we have volunteers that have decided that they will assist the hospital. They ensure the hospital works together with the community’, says Obed Modiko the Fezile Dabi Health District Manager.
The hospital also credits its pro-active patients for always expressing their dissatisfaction to staff and management.
‘We do have complaints from the patients. But, what is important, is how we deal with these complaints. Immediately, we phone the affected client to apologise – not that we’re saying we accept that this has happened. We apologise for what happened’, says Madikomelo Matseliso the head of nursing.
Tokollo district hospital’s accreditation is only for two years. This is to ensure that the hospital continues to maintain high standards and will be assessed again when its accreditation expires in 2013. Tokollo is one of only two hospitals in the Free State that are curently accredited by COHSASA. The other one is Dihlabeng regional hospital. Three other district hospitals are in the process of being investigated for accreditation.