Racial integration, inclusion for women and minorities and accountability for hospitals
There are people in life who have been drastically changed by a series of events and it leaves them with renewed purpose and determination to make life better for others. Shalini Mahtani is one of them. She was born and raised in Hong Kong and is fourth generation. Completely identifying as a Hong Konger, she shares about how her heritage has inspired and motivated her to seek equality, opportunities and integration for minorities. With a background in banking and accountancy, she started her own non-profit called Community Business in 2002 which works with some of the world’s largest companies on corporate responsibility, particularly encouraging the inclusion of women and ethnic minorities at work. Truly a premiere company, Community Business was one of the first organisations in the region doing that specific work which was recognised by the Queen of England and the World Economic Forum.
In a terrible turn of events, Shalini’s first born son, Zubin died tragically in 2009. Shalini says, “When a child dies, it goes against the natural order of life… we are not meant to bury our children.” After Zubin passed away, Shalini’s life was at a complete standstill. Over a conversation with a close friend who suggested a foundation be created in memory of her son, The Zubin Foundation was born. The meaningful logo represents all the things that he loved from the colour yellow to the hot air balloon (which was his favourite ride at Ocean Park).
Shalini says, “If I’m living and my child isn’t, I’ve got to somehow make it worthwhile. The only thing that’s worthwhile is working on issues that no one else wants to touch.” The Zubin Foundation’s goal is three-fold: racial integration as minorities have often lacked leadership for their needs to be included, special education for non-Chinese speakers and finally patient care. Her goal is for change to happen in the larger scale and for the long run which means going into policy specifically in patient care.
Two years ago at the World Economic Forum at Harvard, in a leadership and public policy program, one of the professors said, when leadership in hospitals are concerned about the quality of care for their patients you have less negative outcomes. But how do you measure a negative outcome and gauge a success of a hospital?
Upon returning to Hong Kong, Shalini found that the information surrounding hospital outcome data was difficult to find, not patient friendly or easily available. She found that public hospitals in Hong Kong documented more than private hospitals, however the information was often consolidated and the specific hospitals not named which makes it impossible for us as patients to see variances.
After bringing these disparities to light to her professor, he introduced her to the head of Harvard Global Health Institute who told her about finding out about patient experiences. What patients say about specific questions can tell you about the outcomes of the hospitals. Questions like, did you see the doctor wash his/her hands before attending to you? Did the nurse explain the medicine clearly upon discharge? Positive answers to these questions in hospitals in the UK and the US show a higher mortality rate and lower readmission rates. This information helps patients choose which hospital is better for them and their loved ones.
Thus, The Hospital Advisor was created as a project of The Zubin Foundation as a social enterprise. Their main goal is to have patients armed with the knowledge of informed choices when it comes to their own health and their loved ones when choosing a hospital. Their second goal is to celebrate hospitals that demonstrate their commitment to the quality of their patient care.
The Hospital Advisor is an online site where patients of hospitals (within the last three months for memory sake) can log on, answer the questions about patient care and then rate the hospital they stayed in. All the data is collected and refreshed regularly to show others how to make an informed choice about where they will be getting a procedure done or admitting a family member into. Knowledge is truly power. Mamas, if you or someone you know has recently been treated at a hospital, encourage them to log their experiences to help others make a better decision.
Shalini has taken a tragic incident in her life and turned it into a gift for others. We at Sassy Mama support her and commend her for the work she is doing through the Zubin Foundation and The Hospital Advisor.