Melanie Veness: PCB CEO
There are certain phrases that get right under my skin. It really irks me, for instance, when people refer to Pietermaritzburg as “Sleepy Hollow”.
Pietermaritzburg is not at all sleepy, it is, in fact, growing quite nicely (thank you very much).
If I venture to say so, however, I just come off sounding rather defensive, and so I tend to grit my teeth and bite my tongue, until I’ve thought of something nice to say in response.
I’ve done some introspection about why I find it so very annoying, and I suspect that part of the reason is that, looking back, I can actually appreciate why we were referred to as “Sleepy Hollow” and because I have to admit that some of the connotations attached to the “Sleepy Hollow” image (like cosy and safe) have gone the distance and are still applicable today.
I’ve come to realise that these are not necessarily bad associations. Consider the following.
Development happens naturally where conditions are favourable, and when this occurs, the rule is, that you should play to your strengths.
From a private health care investment perspective, Pietermaritzburg is fertile ground.
Because we are a capital city, there are a large number of government employees living and working in the city, who are all on medical aid and therefore tend to utilize private healthcare facilities.
In addition, we have a large retirement community, many of whom require specialist services. These two factors alone contribute to an above-average demand for private health care.
Couple them with “cosy” and “safe”, the quality of life offered by Pietermaritzburg and surrounds, and the availability of exceptional schools, and one can easily see why medical professionals would find our city an attractive place to establish their practices.
And this is happening more and more. In recent years we’ve seen bone specialists and plastic surgeons relocate from large cities, opting for the lifestyle that the capital has to offer. We’re a sizable city with all the necessary amenities, a place with good values that exudes wholesomeness, surrounded by breath-taking countryside, a stone’s throw from the Drakensberg and the beach. What better place to raise a family?
And these professionals are not relocating just because the location is idyllic, they are choosing to do so, because it makes sound business sense to do it. You can’t get an appointment for love or money, often having to wait for up to 10 months.
We’ve seen exponential growth in our private hospitals too, with all of them expanding, and recently the addition of a new hospital in Hilton, that should be completed in the near future. Ground has been broken on a further facility in Edendale and there are applications for step-down facilities and a specialist eye hospital.
French novelist Marcel Proust said: “The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes”.
Seeing the truth can sometimes make you see things that were right in front of your nose, and it is patently obvious that the Midlands is a natural fit for medical tourism, the area lends itself to slow recoveries from illness or surgery, with its tranquillity, home-grown produce and country comforts, and I am certain that it wouldn’t take very much effort to set this in motion. “Sleepy Hollow” we aren’t, but I’ll take cosy, safe and wholesome.