KAMPALA – Case Hospital has evolved over the years from a small hospital to an upscale facility. Its 25 year journey has seen it become one of the largest private medical centres in Uganda.
Starting case, a medical doctor by profession, Dr Sebaale Kato the Chief Executive Officer and Proprietor of Case Hospital had a vision of offering world class medical services as well as saving lives of many Ugandans who were then flying abroad for treatment.
The 25 years have been a long journey that started in 1995 along Bombo Road in a small partitioned room to now a storied structure of seven floors.
A small centre but truly 24/7 then, Case Clinic was the very first 24/7 private health unit in the country.
“Bombo road was such a small place but a 24/7 unit. I remember we admitted Hon Prime minister Kategaya two nights of basic malaria. He could afford to go anywhere but he trusted the place, as small as it was. Case built us, it built a name. Right now this is almost 25 years down the road, we have moved away from Case Clinic to Case Hospital but people still look at us as Case Clinic, so that is the strength of the brand that small unit built,” Dr Sebaale shares.
Ms Felicita Namwanje who works as the receiving assistant in the procurement department has been part of the Case Hospital Journey for the past 25 years it has existed.
According to Ms Namwanje who was fresh from school looking for an opportunity to get into the employment world, the start was not too bad and neither was it too good.
“We started with five patients in a day but time went by and they started increasing. I remember it was me as the receptionist, Dr Sebaale, one nurse, one doctor and one lab technician as the only staff,” she shares.
Namwanje explains that with time, Bombo road became small for them and Dr Sebaale got an opportunity and started building here (Buganda Road) and we eventually shifted.
“The challenge we got was that this street was not active, it was deserted and only had MultiChoice offices. Even our clients were not happy with the change to here but later embraced it. With God’s grace we are now here celebrating the 25 years.”
As time went by, other people joined after a few miles after but still have memories to share like the valleys and hills they have gone through.
Dr Miriam Apiyo the Medical director and Paediatrician at Case Hospital explains that Case as usual was a very busy place and beyond just the medicine, they used to interact with so many people from all walks of life on a daily basis
“I remember I joined after Dr Kaliike and another doctor called Dr Okullo and we were a team of four medical officers at the time. This being my first job I had an opportunity to make quite a number of friends I am happy to say I have been with to date. One beautiful thing about Case Hospital is that it keeps staff as family and some of the workers I know have been with the organisation right from the inception of the hospital,” she shared.
Uganda’s medical field is currently hyper competitive so there are many things that have made Case stand the test of time over the years.
According to Dr Sebaale, Case has been the pioneer in so many areas. They are pioneers of Kidney treatment and have patients live on Kidney machines for over 15 years, very useful people in the country.
“We are pioneers of Laparoscopic surgery; laser surgery, now we are pioneers of cardiac treatment in the country.”
Mr Kintu Patrick Jackson the Executive Director Case Hospital says they offer very good services and it is the very reason that today, Case Hospital has become a brand within the region.
“Case is a one stop centre, we have got all the specialities, when you get into Case Hospital, be sure you will be served to your satisfaction.”
At Case, all departments have realised tremendous growth and this was inevitable and necessary to meet the ever increasing demand for excellent medical care both here and outside Uganda.
Dr Sebaale shares that right now, Case has grown into an 80 bed fully integrated tertiary end hospital and with most of the facilities under one roof.
“We are proud of this milestone because our vision in the beginning was to build a one stop tertiary centre offering excellent services, recognizable in the region and I think we are achieving that.”
In 2014 Case got ISO certification and has been able to maintain that certification over the years. They have quite a number of plans and project growth of the hospital to be at 30% annually.
All this progress has not been without challenges, and like any other entity, Case too has had challenges here and there over time.
According to Dr Sebaale, Ugandans do not trust the health system and they still think Uganda is lagging 30 years behind which gets them on expensive trips for basic medical access to India, Kenya and the like and unfortunately a lot of them are even financed by the government.
“Government money should be used to treat and improve services within the country other than sending flu and scratches to all these places abroad. Yes, growth comes with lots of challenges, I started off with 3 doctors, now we have so many. We are spread all over the country, the challenges of monitoring all that very well are evident but we are managing,” he shares.
In addition to that, Sebaale believes that if finances are not properly handled, the health sector is likely to crawl because of lending institutions. He shares that this has been one of the biggest challenges not only to him alone but also many other indigenous investors.
“Most finance institutions do offer finances to us long term investors as if we are basically traders of sugar. We are given the same interest rates yet once I put down my penny in health, I am expecting the money 10 to 15 years ahead but the man wants his money yesterday and with a high interest rate. So finances have been difficult and I think until the government realises that the health business is not entirely business so that they can put aside some money to help the health sector, we are going to be lagging behind.”
The executive director believes that tax exemption among other things can help improve the private health business.
“I think the government can do much more when it comes to tax holidays and exemptions and if they do that, they will help the private health sector to grow and also make the services affordable. Currently when it comes to importation of equipment and instrumentation, our main challenge is basically the high exchange rate and related taxes,” he explains.
Looking forward, Dr Sebaale says there will be an extra 40 specialised beds. These will be dealing with heart patients and an ultra-modern Cath lab with relevant facilities to treat top and cardiac conditions. In addition, the hospital in general looks to stepping up to compete on the international level.
Mr Kintu notes that there is no doubt that case is a strong brand within the market both locally and in the region as a whole.
“Going forward, our focus is going to be continuing to grow the brand and also to protect it and to stand the test of time. So in the near future, we are going to rebrand with the new vision mission and the core values that are reflective of the evolving market needs. The mother brand is going to be Case Medical Services franchising Case Hospital, Case Med-Insurance, Case Medcare, Case Pharmacy, Case Med-Diagnostic Center and Case Med-School. This is our future plan for the Case brand management,” he revealed.
Many businesses do not live to celebrate their first birthday and 25 years is not easy to keep one thriving every single moment especially in the health sector.
Dr Sebaale shares that business is not built so much by money but by vision and once you have the vision and you look at it, you are always going to move towards your vision no matter the roadblocks you meet on the way.
“I tell you the truth we have met so many but once you believe in your journey, you move. Even right now, I do not think I am where I want to be. I am striving to do better.”
Dan Bernie Komak Operations, Hospitality and Client Relations Manager Case Hospital believes the reason as to why Case hospital brand has been so outstanding in the market for all the past 25 years is because of their focus on customer service.
“Customer service forms the backbone of the business and it is the driver that has always taken us from one level to the next and for the next foreseeable future it is still the same fuel that we have adapted to keep us moving forward,” he shared.