In 1984, Dr M Lalloo and Dr D Padayachee called a meeting at Kismet hotel to discuss the possibility of establishing a private hospital to cater for the needs of their patients. The doctors were frustrated at the lack of hospital facilities for use in the private sector. Non-White patients could see the private practitioners in their rooms, but once hospitalised they were compelled to receive treatment by state employed doctors only.
Only one ward at Northdale Hospital was allocated for use by Indian and Coloured doctors for private Indian and Coloured patients and there were no facilities for Black patients. Indian dentists were not allowed to do any conservative work but only extractions under general anaesthetic. There were no facilities for Blacks.
The attending doctors at this meeting elected a Steering Committee as follows.:
Dr M Lalloo (Chairman), Dr S Goga (Vice Chairman), Dr D Padayachee (Secretary),
Dr D E Maney and Dr T Bhika.
The Steering Committee formed a company and included Dr K M Daniels and Dr M Marrie as directors of a company which was called Mid-Medic Ltd. This was incorporated on the 5th September 1984. Their responsibilities included motivating doctors to becoming shareholders, collecting R250,00 per month from all interested doctors, finding land on which to construct the hospital, obtaining the a hospital licence from the Department of Health, designing of a hospital, and then finally to source funding through the banks in order to commence with this vision. 34 Shareholders initially committed to the company and the first share certificates were issued on 31st January 1986.
The directors attended many meetings after hours, usually in Dr Lalloo’s rooms, with architects, builders, bank representatives, accountants, lawyers and other professional advisors to develop the hospital. Nursing staff also had to be interviewed and appointed. Working against the odds of the apartheid era and with much persistence and determination they succeeded. They drew no salary as directors, but were committed to the cause. None of the banks were prepared to give a loan of more than 50%. The directors finally managed to negotiate a loan facility with Investec Bank, which enabled the company to pursue the construction of the 6 story building, which is known today as Block A, and to furnish it with the necessary fixtures and fittings. The Hospital (Midlands Medical Centre) was finally completed with 56 beds and 35 staff, and ready for its grand awaited opening on the 15th February 1988.
The initial small group of doctors had no experience in running a hospital, but through diligence and ploughing back reserves into the development, the hospital expanded with the purchase of the Jeddah Centre (now Block B), constructing a link between Block A & Block B, purchase of Govender’s Flats in William Street (now Block C) and more recently developing the Link and Block B to 6 floors of wards, doctors suites and parking. We are very proud of the fact that Midlands Medical Centre was the first private hospital to be opened in Pietermaritzburg and today has a 23 year history record of serving the communities. It remains one of the few independently non-white owned (Black, Indian and coloured doctors) private hospitals in South Africa and does not have the backing, support and resources of one of the three large groups, yet has the reputation of delivering excellent healthcare.
Registered with 225 beds and still in the process of expansion, together with a staff compliment of about 400 full time employees, shows our growth.
It is interesting to note that prior to 1994, political stalwarts, like Mr Harry Gwala were admitted to the hospital and his privacy was top secret.
Our hospital’s motto from the very beginning has been “We always care” and we have applied this philosophy not only to our patients, but to our staff and doctors as well.
This is what makes us unique in the private healthcare industry.