NIRESH BECHAN, Lenmed Ethekwini Hospital and Heart Centre's hospital manager, says "Even with the most careful planning, the road of life is unpredictable. The upside of unpredictability is that you may surpass any goals you set yourself."

Bechan, a chartered accountant who completed his BCom degree at University of Durban-Westville (now the University of KwaZulu-Natal), accepted a job as a management accountant for a hospital. His first job was working in a small, independent hospital, but after gaining some experience, he joined a major South African hospital group and moved into the corporate world. Bechan began to take an interest in the clinical side of the business and rapidly moved into general management within the group.

When the Ethekwini Hospital and Heart Centre opened eleven years ago, Bechan was recruited as general manager. During his leadership, Bechan managed to revive this facility that was then on the brink of ceasing operations. A leader passionate about people and numbers, provided Bechan with the insight to swiftly turn this business around. The Lenmed Health Group became the majority shareholders of the hospital in 2017.

As the head of the hospital, Bechan's responsibilities range from the pharmacy to facilities management, and from patient care to finance. According to Bechan, every day is unlike any other. "We are in the business of care; therefore, it matters deeply to me that we do our very best always." He relishes every challenge.

The Lenmed Ethekwini Hospital and Heart Centre is highly specialised with a top-notch clinical team across a range of specialties. The hospital's numerous accolades include being a paediatric and adult heart, stroke, and renal dialysis centre of excellence. "Many of our patients are critically ill, and this drives what we do, and how we do it. They could be suffering from anything from cardiac failure to a deep vein thrombosis, and our patients often need urgent, specialised care."

Feeling blessed to be leading a world class facility and being part of the hospital's phenomenal growth, Bechan says that patient care, clinical governance and training are imperative to managing a successful facility.

"Our doctors are handpicked, and our nursing staff is highly specialised. We have strict protocols to measure clinical outcomes. Our goal is for every patient to leave this hospital healed and satisfied." Management tracks each patient's satisfaction and quality of care, from their initial visit to the doctor, through the admission process right through to discharge from the hospital.

Lenmed Ethekwini Hospital and Heart Centre was voted as one of KZN's top five and SA's top 20 hospitals by Discovery Health patients for 'Best Patient Experience of Hospital Care' in the large hospital category.

Running a hospital can be extremely stressful, but Bechan is calm and collected under pressure. "Our patients and their families are under enormous strain, and if we can help relieve their anxieties with compassion and care, with sophisticated technology that gives them the best chance of a positive clinical outcome, and with doctors and specialists with impeccable skills, that will go a long way to helping them deal with their personal circumstances," said Bechan.

He attributes the success of the hospital to a strong team, and state of the art clinical facilities. When asked about his management philosophy, he replied that people need to be given the opportunity to grow and he has a keen interest in mentoring those who are committed to hospital management.

In his free time, Bechan is a keen jogger. He also enjoys golf, which helps him clear his mind, strategize and network. He says that managing his time is a vital part of his approach, and he regularly spends a couple of hours meditating at his ashram on a Sunday evening, to revitalise, recharge and prepare for the week ahead.

"Balance is key... Once you have that, life is such a pleasure!"

Niresh Bechan KZN Business Leaders video shoot
Lenmed Ethekwini Hospital and Heart Centre
Lenmed Ethekwini Hospital and Heart Centre staff
Discovery Health Top 20 Hospital