A winner in every way

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Frere CEO recognised for hard work

DR ROLENE Wagner is a winner of the annual BWA national Business Woman of the Year Awards, held recently in Johannesburg.
The chief executive officer of Frere Hospital won the women in government category at the awards. Prominent women leaders from around the country in five categories – science and technology, corporate, social entrepreneurship, government and education– were celebrated.
Wagner qualified as a medical doctor at the University of Cape Town and said this had helped
her to run Frere Hospital because she understood the core business of the facility.
She won the award for the way in which she was turning the fortunes of the ailing hospital around.
When clinical care teams presented their concerns or solutions to the challenges they faced, or wanted to innovate, it helped that Wagner understood what they were passionate about.
At the heart of it, both clinicians and Wagner share the professional commitment to serve
patients better.

WELL-DESERVED : Dr Rolene Wagner has been recognized for the sterling work she is doing at Frere
WELL-DESERVED : Dr Rolene Wagner has been recognized for the sterling work she is doing at Frere

Wagner was born and raised in Cape Town, the eldest of three children. Raised by strict parents, they instilled in her a deep respect for hard work, being humble, and the importance

of serving others. The successes she had, she said, were because there was always room for improvement in her family, and never time to rest on one’s laurels. Mediocrity was not encouraged and excellence of standards expected, she said.
“Having a grounding in public health also assists in that I understand and will manage Frere Hospital within the broader context of the bio-psycho-social and political and economic determinants of health.
“It is therefore relatively easy to develop appropriate strategies that will promote continuity of care from primary health care to hospital level,” she said.
Frere Hospital struggled with a high infant mortality rate and slow patient turnaround a few years ago but this reputation is vanishing. The finances at the hospital are also looking better with the hospital recently receiving an unqualified audit report from the Auditor -General. Patients also used to wait for more than three hours for medicine at the pharmacy,
but now one hour is just too long for waiting.
“We have had a sustained reduction in case fatality rates – from 5.88 deaths per 100 cases in 2013 to four deaths/100 at the end of the fourth quarter, approximately a 31% reduction in the total number of deaths.
“Average death rates at SA hospitals are purported to be 6.1 deaths/100 cases. We are moving closer to our goal of 2-3 deaths/100, as experienced in first world countries,” said Wagner. There has also been asustained decrease in the Hospital Acquired Infection(HAI) rate, with a 45% reduction in the overall HAI rate average of 2.72% at the end of 2015/2016, compared to 5% at the end of 2014/15, and this is well within the national norm range of 2.5-5% .
“I joined the team in 2012 at a time where the Frere management felt dis-empowered by the highly centralized bureaucracy and were not working as a collective. This, of course,
has turned around significantly and our executive management team are a well-oiled, performance driven team. A decentralized system enhances their capability to do great things in the healthcare sector.”

Wagner said the nomination affirmed the importance of quality healthcare to communities.
Such big shifts in performance must have required innovative and big-world thinking because they operate within a resource constrained environment that presents its own set of challenges.

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