A new kind of hospital: Inside Hazratwala’s $90m project

By Indira Laisram
A/Prof Kaushik (Kosh) Hazratwala // Pic supplied

A/Prof Kaushik (Kosh) Hazratwala, is among other things, an India-born orthopaedic surgeon, who “has spent the last 15 years in Townsville, both in the private and public sector working with a multitude of peer specialists, medical students, nursing and allied health care staff”. He is among a significant number of Indian doctors who are making substantial contributions to the town.

It is worth nothing that Kosh along with two of his colleagues founded the not-for-profit health promotion charity, the Orthopaedic Research Institute of Queensland (ORIQL). Now, he is building a hospital aimed at enhancing the healthcare infrastructure of the town and providing top-notch medical facilities to its residents.

“The institute allows us to do research on musculoskeletal diseases. It is the only orthopaedic research institute outside of other major metropolitan areas. We have an association with James Cook University and Townsville Hospital,” says Kosh, adding, “It is of academic interest to explore the collection, analysis, and publication of information for teaching and learning purposes.”

As a doctor working closely with the system, Kosh believes the healthcare model needs to change. This is why he is building a hospital in Townsville, along with his brother, Dr Kiran Hazratwala, a Urologist, and another partner, which he hopes will be operational by the end of the year.

Kaushik with his family // Pic supplied

Kosh clarifies he is not in it for the money. “Townsville has only one private hospital and there is a need for another one to create a proper model to provide meaningful healthcare delivery. It is very hard to change anything in public hospitals,” he rues.

His concern is that while healthcare in Australia is of high quality and provides excellent services, the cost of healthcare is very high, and it is not proportional to the value it provides. In other words, to achieve better value, the healthcare system needs to focus on improving outcomes and reducing costs, he beleives.

So, what he is trying to do is set up a physician-owned hospital rather than a corporate-owned one. “We know what the patient needs are, what the outcomes are and how to be efficient. We want to be able to collect information, data, incentivise surgeons and physicians to work better and harder. I want to put the remuneration in a way that it leads to better outcomes for patients,” says Kosh, who is a specialist lower limb orthopaedic surgeon at Queensland Lower Limb Clinic.

The hospital is Kosh’s brainchild and his biggest project, and it has funding from himself and his two partners. “It’s a 90-million-dollar project, all up,” he reveals.

A/Prof Kaushik (Kosh) Hazratwala // Pic supplied

“It’s been years in the making. We will now have a hospital with five theatres and expect between 10,000 to 15,000 surgical cases per year. While some may assume that I am building this hospital for financial gain, I cannot afford to run it at a loss. However, I am motivated by the belief that we must do good for ourselves and others, and if we can facilitate this, others will follow suit.”

In his years working in Townsville, Kosh realised that change can be affected by stepping out of the system. So, the hospital project is not an epiphany he got out of a dream one night. It’s just an effort to help bring about a change.

“I really want to revolutionise the way healthcare is practiced in a very privileged country like Australia, where we need to focus on patient outcomes and patient care with efficient use of the health dollar that is not happening.

“So, the whole idea is for the community to benefit. Providing an alternative to the community is important because there is just one private hospital.”

Kaushik with his family // Pic supplied

Kosh was born in India to two doctors who later migrated to Fiji, when he was about six years old. He excelled in his studies and eventually earned a spot at the University of New South Wales in Australia.

After completing his medical degree, he decided to specialise in orthopaedics, a field that combined his passion for medicine with his love of sports. He trained in Queensland, where he quickly realised that the medical field was highly competitive.

Kosh remained determined to succeed. He recognised that regional towns like Townsville presented unique opportunities for doctors who were willing to work hard and make a name for themselves. He moved to Townsville in 2006 and quickly established himself as a respected orthopaedic surgeon.

Kosh clearly says he doesn’t want the limelight on himself as he has come from a privileged background and never felt real challenges, so to speak. “I do make a very healthy living—working in both public and private hospitals. I haven’t broken any barriers but, yes, I am perhaps thinking, as you said, outside the box and not sticking to a strait-laced career.”

A/Prof Kaushik (Kosh) Hazratwala // Pic supplied

Speaking to Kosh, there is a sincerity that flows in his vision, it stems from a genuine hope to connect and bring a change. He credits his unwavering passion and commitment to his family, who have been a constant source of support throughout his career. Kosh is especially grateful to his wife and two children, who have been a steadfast pillar of support, as well as his elderly parents residing in Townsville, who continue to inspire him every day.

Importantly, he derives fulfilment from everything he does be it work, sports, spending time with family or friends. “I just think everything is one. So, when I am operating, I make sure I am enjoying my time with my staff, I don’t see them as people I work with but as people I cherish my time with.”

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