Transforming the Healthcare Landscape
Born in South Africa to humble, but hard working and professional parents who, by example encouraged their children to excel academically and in everything they do.
Yvonne’s mother, despite retiring five years ago at the age of 80, is a pillar of the local community. As a qualified nursing sister, she was deeply involved in community healthcare all her life which influenced Yvonne’s sister (who is now a medical doctor) and Yvonne to pursue careers that focus on the health and wellbeing of people.
Having graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Lesotho Zimbabwe, Yvonne went into exile in Australia and continued her studies, gaining a Master of Industrial Relations from the University of Sydney and an MBA from the University of Canberra.
After her return to South Africa in 1994, Yvonne began building a career at executive level at Medscheme and then at Life Healthcare, two of South Africa’s leading private healthcare organisations.
In addition to executing her responsibilities in branding, communications and transformation, Yvonne was able to leverage her executive position to transform the organisation’s employment practices to better represent the country’s demographics. Yvonne was instrumental in driving both organisations’ corporate social investment programs and expenditure to benefit disadvantaged people and communities.
Yvonne’s career focus is dedicated to making a positive contribution to the upliftment of disadvantaged black communities in South Africa.
“I believe every human being has a specific purpose in life and that we are uniquely created and driven to realise that purpose. It is our personal responsibility to discover that purpose and to bring it into being.”
At Medscheme, Yvonne leveraged her position to transform the organisation’s employment practices embracing broad-based black economic empowerment which supports the participation of previously disadvantaged people of South Africa in the development of the economy.
“My passion for people and healthcare was inspired by my mother’s community work and this has always been an integral part of my life for as long as I can remember. I have been very fortunate in my life and I believe I have a responsibility to pay it forward.”
Pairing passion with influence, Yvonne’s work has transformed the healthcare landscape in South Africa, allowing her the opportunity to be directly involved in key issues such as people, education, health and women’s rights to make a tangible difference.
Although many career highlights stand out, some of which are large multi-million rand projects, it was her direct involvement with Eluthandweni (which means “place of love”) Maternity Services Clinic has proved to be the most rewarding.
The clinic was established and is owned by a tea of black women in response to much-needed maternity support and care to uninsured and indigent women in the Vosloorus community. Medscheme partnered with the clinic by expanding and refurbishing the buildings and by providing medical equipment, business management training and mentoring for the team. Unfortunately, mother and infant mortality rates are unacceptably high in South Africa and the clinic has been successful in reducing these rates in the community it serves.
Yvonne’s list of impacts are lengthy having established Medscheme’s extensive corporate social investment portfolio which includes:
- Supporting private nursing colleges. A shortage of suitably qualified nursing staff is one of the factors affecting the country’s ability to deliver quality healthcare services. Medscheme provides support to black-owned nursing colleges. This project also encompasses the refurbishment and equipping of the schools with resources that allow them to meet the requirements set by the government in terms of legitimacy, but to also produce quality and well-trained candidates to augment the output produced by government facilities.
- Establishing Medscheme Supporting Doctors Programme (MEDS) This initiative assists recently-qualified black doctors to establish successful private practices, by offering financial assistance, training, coaching and mentoring in business and financial management. The support aims to ensure the practices are managed as growing businesses and are able to provided required services to the community in which they are based.
- Supporting A’Dare Women’s Wellness Centre which is operated by Dr Kgomotso Mogapi (who was a beneficiary of the Medscheme Empowering Doctors Programme). The centre is situated in Mabopane, in Tshwane (formerly named Pretoria). Dr Mogapi is passionate about women’s wellness and this is reflected in the practice’s emphasis on healthy living, general wellness, early detection through screenings and lifestyle advice to women from the township who usually do not have sufficient access to these services.
- Charlotte Maxeke Hospital School. The hospital is one of the largest public hospitals in South Africa and its school caters for learners from Grades R to 12 who are admitted to or have to spend a significant part of their day in the hospital for treatment of serious illnesses. The school enables learners to receive medical treatment without interrupting their education. Medscheme funded the complete refurbishment hand equipping of the school, and sponsored the installation of a custom-designed playground all of which provides for a positive learning environment for children with special needs due to their impaired immune systems.
Yvonne’s passion for people and healthcare has been integral to her life’s work where she has made a tangible difference to the lives of those who need it most in the South African community.
Although hugely influential in the sector, Yvonne recently felt the time was right to leave the corporate world. Not quite ready to cease her influence in the community, Yvonne has already joined the Board of COPESSA, a multiple award-winning not for profit organisation dedicated to the primary, secondary and tertiary prevention of child abuse. Yvonne will continue to serve on the Boards of other influential organisations where she will continue to play a vital role to improve the lives of disadvantaged communities and people.
Words by Caitlin Judd