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Turning water-birthing into a valuable business

Oct 29 2015 11:39
Buhle Ndweni
Genesis Clinic

Genesis Clinic (Papi Morake)

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Journalist-turned-businesswoman Jude Polack is the founder and director of Genesis Clinic, a maternity hospital specialising in home births. It has recently been acquired by South Africa’s third-largest healthcare services company Life Healthcare for R30m. 

After a bad experience in hospital giving birth to her second child, Polack decided to take matters into her own hands. With no experience in business or obstetrics care, Polack started Genesis. Believing in her own healthcare services, Polack gave birth to her third child at Genesis two years ago.

Tucked away in the residential suburb of Saxonwold, Johannesburg, the hospital exterior and interior were designed to feel like home. Polack says expectant mothers prefer the clinic to be a private, personal and sacred space.

This is why the transaction with Life Healthcare was not publicised in the media. Life announced in its unaudited group results for the six months ended 31 March 2015 that it had acquired a 100% stake in Genesis Clinic on 1 March 2015. 

Genesis has 14 beds and delivers about 100 babies a month. The birthing clinic also has an operating theatre, should complications arise during birth, and a neonatal high-care unit.

Selling the business   

Polack started looking for a buyer because her family is relocating. She says it was not about getting the highest bidder, but about selling Genesis to a company she believed was ethical and would be willing to maintain her kind of healthcare. 

Through years of interacting with the Life team, she felt it was the right match. Life is also implementing a similar birthing experience at some of its hospitals. Polack will remain in management to help the transition until the end of the year. 

“One of the most emotional parts of the move is how much time and how many years we’ve spent building this very beautiful thing,” she says. “And I’d have loved to make it available to [the whole of] South Africa and feel it was more secure. But for family reasons, the timing is now.” ?

There will be some co-branding between the Genesis and the Life brands, says Polack, but Genesis will remain a sub-brand of the group. 

This is an excerpt of an article originally published in the 23 July 2015 edition of finweek. Buy and download the magazine here.

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