Catching up with the CEO of Msunduzi Hospice: Warren Oxford-Huggett

Categories: People & Places.

During our visit at this stunning hospice we had a chat with the CEO, Warren Hugget, and he gave us a bit of background as to the running of the organisation and where it all began for him until this point where he is at now with Msunduzi Hospice as the CEO.

Warren’s involvement with hospice dates back to the late 1990’s when he was an integral part of the community gathering that started Ladysmith hospice which is currently now known as Escort Hospice. “I felt extremely passionate about hospice and I felt I could really help in a  number of aspects of hospice like outreach programs, surveys and enrolling with Cosasa and making sure that Escort hospice ( the hospice I was involved with) achieved a 5 star rating which it currently still has” he stated.

Journey at Msunduzi

In 2010 Warren was offered the post as CEO of Msunduzi hospice, and at that time he was extremely happy and willing to take on the post and accept the challenge of being the CEO.

Warren is extremely proud of the fact that he has been able to maintain the hospice’s 5 star rating after two Cosasa surveys.

“Msunduzi is an extremely traditional hospice in the sense that we offer what all hospices offer. Our hospice has a traditional program which focuses on our urban area (which is around about 80 – 100 patients) most of whom are cancer patients, however not exclusively. We also have an outreach program which focuses on (delivered) mainly in the surrounding settlements (formal and informal settlements) which house an increasing number of cancer patients, but predominantly HIV and TB patients. In these areas we serve about 180 – 200 patients.”

Challenges of funding

Msunduzi like many other hospices over the years enjoyed the benefits of abundant funding. However they have also suffered from the difficulties of restrictions of funding which have affected how they have been able to deliver care.

“Last year Msunduzi had to retrench 6 people and there were a couple of  staff who retired whom we didn’t replace and a couple this year that we are not going to replace, all to work towards that level at which we are satisfactorily sustainable.” added Warren.

“As people are retrenched and retire and you don’t fill those posts, you have to adapt and modify the way in which care, in particular, is delivered. Our staff complement is currently standing at give or take 50 people and on top of that we have an amazing complement of +- 100 volunteers who are active and at our hospice more than once a week.  I cannot stress how important our volunteers are to us. They perform a valuable role in the organisation, one that is integral in the successful running of our hospice.”

Reach of patients cared for

“We reach and care for about 200 – 250 patients all together. In the month of February alone we had 44 admissions which is phenomenal. The patients are flowing in which is just what we want. Most of our referrals come from Greys hospital but there is a limited number that come from private hospitals, with the rest of the referrals coming from family, friends etc.”

The patients who are mainly referred to the hospice are patients that don’t have long to live, they are within four to eight weeks of death, which Warren feels is a major problem. It’s a problem because of the perception people have of sending someone to hospice only when they are near death and not before.   

As a hospice they have tried to address the issue at various meetings and presentations which Warren admits hasn’t yet materialised into any significant change, however in general the great work and intervention that hospice is making is there for everyone to see, and Warren is extremely proud of that fact.

Find out more about Msunduzi hospice here.