Specialist Psychiatrist Applauded for Reorganisation of Psychiatric Services at Townhill Hospital
Specialist psychiatrist at the Townhill Hospital’s Out Patients Department in Pietermaritzburg Dr Vidette Juby has been lauded by UKZN’s School of Clinical Medicine for identifying gaps and improving systems in the management of the facility.
Townhill is a psychiatric hospital which serves as a referral centre for KwaZulu-Natal. When Juby joined in 2020 as a newly qualified consultant she identified issues with the way the Out Patients section was run and offered to work there to oversee the management of the unit.
Prior to joining the Psychiatry Department and specialising, Juby ran her own highly regarded general practice so she used her background from that experience to ring the changes at Townhill.
Juby said problems she identified included: poor staff supervision, lack of continuity of care and thus poor patient satisfaction, difficult referral processes which frustrated external stakeholders and translated into low patient numbers, and general bleakness and clutter in the unit.
Juby and her team brainstormed on ways to improve the system and proposed that management support a reorganisation strategy. This was done with careful consideration given to the limited recourses at the hospital and an understanding that no additional resources could be acquired.
The strategy included: (1) motivating for permanent medical staff including a psychiatrist, a medical officer with an interest in integrative out-patient care, a full-time psychiatric registrar on a six-month rotation basis, and a psychiatry intern to be assigned as permanent staff; (2) the reorganisation of clinics to attend to new patients, and sub-specialty patients on particular days; (3) the introduction of an appointment system to prevent long waiting times and (4) the initiation of evidence-based teaching and supervision programme where all cases are reviewed by the consultant, academic topics are discussed and journal articles relevant to out-patient psychiatry presented.
Juby also appealed to the private sector to sponsor paint for the unit and organised for general improvements and maintenance to be carried out.
Patients’ attending the Out Patients section now report a better quality of care and care experience. There has been particularly good feedback regarding the appointment system and the improved continuity of care.
Said Medical Officer at the Out Patients section Dr K Padayachee: ‘Dr Juby has been pivotal in creating and sustaining a dynamic therapeutic environment at the Townhill Hospital Outpatients Department. The new system has reduced patient waiting times and enables holistic health care delivery to patients. Dr Juby is readily available to assist in providing quality care for patients and offers constant support to her team.’
Acting Head of the Clinical Unit at Townhill Hospital Dr Reyanta Bridgmohum said: ‘Staff working in the Out Patients Department feel supported in their daily work. There is positive energy in the workplace, which has become a centre of excellence for out-patient psychiatry training. An intern doctor said “this was the best ever rotation of my internship” and voiced a strong desire to return to UKZN Psychiatry to specialise. Psychiatry registrars echo this, expressing that they have had exposure and teaching on a vast array of psychiatric illness that they do not usually get experience in, working in exclusively in-patient units. Juby has brought true excellence to service delivery and teaching and is an asset to our hospital and our department!’
Words: Lihle Sosibo