May 23, 2013
Interview with dr. Angel YebaraSunday, November 18, 2012
British Hospital marks successful year
By Michael Soltys
The British Hospital is working at full stretch with only one way to move forward until capacity is physically expanded — the improvement of quality.
That was the core message of the hospital’s new director-general Dr. Angel Yebara, interviewed by the Herald between the Annual General Meeting on October 25 and last Friday’s Hospital Ball. As the chief medical officer before becoming CEO, Dr. Yebara is well placed to combine both medical and administrative criteria towards his goal of placing “the patient in the middle” (the idea of “care and cure”).
Some figures illustrate his point about peak capacity — if outpatient consultations rose from 714,000 to 832,000 between 2008 and 2012 and hospital stays from 15,000 to 20,000 (four days on average) with an almost identical number of operations, operations (and stays) were already 19,000 last year while bed occupancy has been as high as 94.5 percent at times.
But if 2013 will not see much growth without more capacity, Dr. Yebara insists, the hospital has not been idle on that front either. Innovations include an operating theatre with state-of-the-art lighting specializing in transplants — since these complex operations average around 10 hours, they had blocked out the other operating theatres for entire days previously. Equipment has also been reinforced with a Phillips ultrasound but undoubtedly the hospital’s main infrastructural pride this year has been completion of the Women’s Centre covering female health needs in all generations.
Another highlight of the year was last month’s inauguration of the Father Anthony Dominic Fahy Medical Sciences Faculty of UCA Catholic University by no less a personage than visiting Irish President Michael D. Higgins. This underlines a new aspect of the Hospital in its 168-year history — its academic activity since its 2009 agreement with UCA. Dr. Yebara is very keen on the BH making giant strides towards becoming a university hospital, pointing to hundreds of lectures and dozens of publications in the last year.
While bearing a medical ethos to hospital administration, Dr. Yebara brings various managerial concepts to his new job such as synergies and “partnering” (space is lacking for a full description). Argentina has its own set of problems — less malpractice than in developed countries but a trickier labour front — while he would define his main challenge to be achieving efficiency within a highly regulated market.
At the AGM (which began with introductory remarks from Honorary President Francis Fernie), Dr. Yebara summarized a year beginning with him as medical chief and ending with him as CEO in these terms, in between Jane Kirkwood on behalf of the fund-raisers and Santiago Reddy presenting the financial report. Fund-raising proceeds have risen from one million pesos in 2009 to 1.8 million (with 1.1 million coming from last year’s Hospital Ball and most of the rest from the golf tournament in Hurlingham) — a “grateful patient programme” has been launched to raise more (85 percent of patients describe British Hospital care as “excellent” or “very good” with only three percent finding it less than good).
The financial report shows hospital turnover rising from 186 to 550 million dollars between 2008 and 2012 with annual nominal growth between 27 and 36 percent — well above any estimation of the inflation rate. Profits have risen from 350,000 pesos in 2008 to 10 million pesos in the last year — these profits are being invested in the hospital. The hospital debt of nine million pesos is highly manageable as even lower than annual profit.
As always, the AGM concluded with a tribute to benefactors from various generations — the seminal figure of Dr. Michael Lowe (who ran the hospital for almost 15 years from early 1979 to late 1993 and who has been described as “the right man, at the right place, at the right time”), Samuel E.P. Hale (President during the First World War, a time of trebled costs) and Uruguayan John Christian Zimmermann Hamilton, who briefly headed the Hospital in 1894.