From starting up in a one-bedroom clinic in Ruai to steering a chain of 9 recognized branches in a decade, DR. MAXWELL OKOTH, co-founder of RFH Healthcare has finally stepped aside from his role as the institution's CEO. He speaks to SOLOMON KOKO about the future of the institution and his next move.When you started did you ever dream that you'd achieve this much so soon?
I had a dream but I needed a team. Truth is, it has taken a concerted effort to put it all together and keep the wheels rolling. We had one obligation and responsibility to make sure we achieved our goal... I was more of a doer and the guy that brings some consensus around the table.
Having been in the health sector for such a long time growing such a successful institution, what informed your decision to step aside a decade later?
Just so you know, I have not stopped being part of oversight, I'm only stepping back from the day-to-day operations as CEO and being part of the Hospital from the board level. Ruai Family Hospital is in my DNA, and I believe those in our team will continue to benefit from the experience I have in my new oversight role. I have lived my legacy. It's time to let go and pave the way for other persons who are equally qualified.
Your successor has some pretty big if not expensive shoes to fit in. Wasn't this a risky move?
Contrary to what many may think, the process of appointing top management is rigorous and very well thought out. I believe the appointment of Mr. Nicholas Kaweru as Acting Chief Executive Officer of RFH couldn't have been better. He comes with a wealth of experience from the Human resource sector having been the immediate Human Resources Director at RFH Healthcare and previously served in various management roles at a local bank besides having been head of a Talent and organisation development firm. We are confident he has what it takes to scale the organisation to great heights.
What would be your biggest source of pride at the moment?
I pride myself as a creator of wealth in the health sector for health is wealth. Growing from a single clinic to nine recognised hospitals is no mean feat. From a workforce of just three to over 600 in our direct employment currently; and many more employed indirectly. Not to mention the several suppliers who rely on our value chain. We have been able to serve over 450,000 patients. I take pride in touching lives.
What would you say fulfills your passion as a health practitioner?
Working with an extremely talented and committed team that puts the needs of our patients first always. They are the reason we do what we do, and their care should always be our top priority. We have managed to do this while staying true to our mission of changing medicine, and touching hearts.
What is one challenge that you beat?
I'm glad that as a team we managed to demystify maternal and child health with over a record 7,000 safe deliveries. Today, we continue to receive patients from all over the country for critical care and specialized surgeries. It's simply fulfilling.
What motivation would you pull from to inspire those under you?
I'm glad that by the time I tendered my resignation, we in 2022 had been voted the People’s Private Hospital of choice during the Quality Healthcare Kenya Awards besides my personal acknowledgements. That encourages me to challenge my staff, what story will you write when it's your turn? It keeps us going.
You have had the unusual occurrence of being a successful entrepreneur retiring at a youthful age. What is next for you?
Well, I'm still going to be here and solely focussed on my mandate of improving healthcare. We are coming to a crucial launch and hope to finalize our multi-speciality wing of Cancer (Oncology) centre and Cardiac Centre in this calendar year 2023. I believe it will offer much-needed relief to our strained national referral hospitals.
As a practitioner, was pains you the most about the access to health for all?
There is slow progress towards health financing to aid the realization of universal health care for patients to access better health care. Kenyans are overburdened while there is a need to have sustainable trustful and consulted effort to address key financial challenges that limit citizens from accessing health systems in Kenya. I will be the happiest. Private hospitals are stereotyped as money makers but with the Government's trust and goodwill, we have the ability to provide health in optimal levels.
You are part of that same system that can grant affordable offers, how does that make you feel?
There's a special role in what we have done for the Kenyan society, and I believe that is the legacy I will leave behind. Sitting on the board as the Group's General Manager, I'll ensure proper Governance of the company and make sure that we are successful in what we implement for the next phase of growth.