The interview with Beata Drzazga, the founder of a modern medical center BetaMed S.A., where professional staff of great heart care about their patients, mostly senior patients, and also give them faith and hope that human life is purposeful and may be happy at its every stage. The talk about dreams, great empathy and love to people, about a dynamic development of the company, and also about the necessity to take risk …
Before you created such an enormous medical center BETAMED, you had worked as a nurse. Working in a hospital had been your dream since childhood. Where did this idea to pursue that career come from?
Yes, it is true, I was dreaming about it when I was a little girl. When I was three years old, I was thrilled with the hospital smell of my aunt’s coat who was a nurse. I imagined that I would work there one day too. At the kindergarten I drew pictures of me wearing a nurse’s cap and an apron. When I was ill and stayed at a hospital in my first grade of primary school, I walked together with the nurses to the patients’ rooms, I watched how they worked and I wanted to help them. It just had always been my dream. I am sensitive to other people’s suffering. My dad advised to me to become a doctor, instead of a nurse. He died when I was in the seventh grade. So I took care of my mother and my sister who is 6 years older than me and who has been working with me until today.
So after finishing the primary school, you didn’t hesitate to take on studies at a medical high school?
You may say so, although I was also interested in painting, but unfortunately I didn’t take any drawing lessons, so the choice was clear. During my studies and my practice in a hospital I became even more convinced that this was the job for me and my vocation. I was happy when I could ease the pain of a suffering patient, or help to improve his or her health. It has always been an important element of my work to comfort others, to soothe their sadness or cheer them up. I used my artistic skills later when designing the interior at my center or when opening a fashion house for demanding and elegant ladies.
How did it happen that you decided to start your own company? Didn’t you do the job of your dreams in a hospital?
I did the job that I loved and I continously developed my competences. I tried to support the patients, especially those more teriffied, who waited for serious surgeries at the ophthalmic ward, where I worked at that time. When they came to the hospital I joked and asked them: Which room do you choose? I also said that they were lucky because we were having a cocktail party that evening. The patients were in better mood straight away. In the meantime, I got married and had children. But in spite of my great dedication, I earned too little to provide my youngest with decent living conditions. I had to take risk and start my own company, and also to show how together with the staff we were going to take care of patients and give all heart to them. I dreamed about various studies to get further education. It was 2001, I became self-employed and worked in a small room. In the beginning I offered mostly ozonotherapy treatment to people who had problems with their eyes. There were more and more patients satisfied with my services, because they could see much better after the treatment. There was shortage of such services on the market. I quickly had to employ workers and rent more rooms. The patients came to us from distant places, so I provided them with places to sleep. I offered to them coffee, tea and cookies. I really wanted to give them different kind of medical service. With the time, I also offered long-term care at the patient’s home. It had a lot of advantages, it was really convenient to elderly people, because they could still be at home, and at the same time they were cared for in a friendly atmosphere. In 2002 I won a tender and signed the contract with The Healthcare Fund, thanks to which I could provide services at the patients’ houses, without charging them with fees. It turned out there was great demand that kind of services.
In the meantime you developed your qualifications.
Yes, I did master studies, and then PhD studies in economics, and also MBA in management. I also did a lot of postgraduate studies, including healthcare management or European integration, and I also majored in geriatrics studies. Before exams, my children asked me to check my knowledge and they were proud of me.
I understand that BetaMed quickly extended its offer by more medical treatment methods than only ozonetherapy?
Naturally, we got to specialize also in health care over people suffering from breathing difficulties. Those are not only older people, but also babies, or actually patients of all ages. Some of them used treatment at home, others were in worse conditio, but they didn’t require hospitalization. For them I decided to open Medical Active Care Center. This almost a pioneering institution in Poland in terms of variety of services. A lot of patients came also from other regions. I had to hire more specialists. It took me a lot of time to manage the company because it developed very dynamically. After some time I missed the direct contact with the patients , so I took the risk and built in 2014 a modern clinic BetaMed S.A. Medical Active Care in Chorzów, and took a credit of 60 million PLN.
We extened our services also in the scope of esthetic medicine, we bought unusually innovative and effective lasers of rapid and painless work, e.g. for depilation, albinism, hyperhidrosis or skin firming. Moreover, I bought the best equipment for gastroscopy, colonoscopy, ultrasound tests, which has many transducers for various many specialists.
This clinic is distinctive among others on the Polish market …
This is true, I am proud of it and I feel really fullfilled. I may be saying something hard, but true – I never wanted to run the so called „death house”. I wanted to take care of senior people with all my heart, therefore we employ here not only experts, but most of all the personnel who love their work and who are highly emphatetic. All patients are treated the same way, no matter which sector they are under – private or public funding. We try to create home atmosphere for them. The medical center is equipped with modern surgery rooms and high quality medical equipment, e.g. X-ray – we do a full range of x-ray tests. In the clinic we have air-conditioned rooms equipped with life-support machines and central system for oxygen, etc. We also have macerators for utulization of disposable urine bottles and beautiful bathrooms with bed-baths.
In the rooms there is practical furniture, even mobile furniture, comfortable beds with beautiful bedsheets patterned with stars or hearts, the walls are decorated with photos showing patients, me and our personnel, and paper-cuts made by our patients. In every room there are tv sets, family photos and plants at window sills. We enhance intelectual activity and body activity for senior people, which has good impact on their mind and well-being. The patients wear their own clothes, and not pyjamas, they may go to church which is on the premises of BetaMed. They may walk around the beautiful garden where are arbors with tables inside, laid with checked table clothes. There are a lot of flowers, raspberries, blackberries, paths along which the patients may walk or drive wheel-chairs. They may also use the cafe, dance club or arts classes. What is important is that we care about the senior patients to have contact with younger people through events for generations. We invite children from schools or kindergartens to give performances to our patients, we arrange theater, opera, music therapy, dancing events. There is also Senior Club for citizens of Chorzów and the nearby cities. We opened SPA where on particular hours the senior patients can have facial treatment, massages and get discounts.
How many patients stay at the clinic?
BetaMed S.A. Medical Active Care Center in Chorzów, where we have had the headquarters of our company for four years, has one hundred beds. We offer to the patients a few-hour stay, one day stay, a few days stay or permanent care. I think the best situation is when the senior patients can stay at home, where they feel comfortable in their own surroundings and where nurses come and help with the everyday activities, and provide medical treatment. Unfortunately, not all senior patients can live alone because of their health condition, it would not be safe for them.
Perhaps it is thanks to this dedication and epmathy that you have so many patients?
We employ about 3 thousand nurses, doctors, physiotherapists and carers, including 200 persons who co-ordinate their activities. We have about 5 thousand patients in 11 voivodships, in over 90 divisions, where over 80% are senior patients. I can’t imagine employing people who would work here without friendly approach to patients, their families and to each other. The employees who answer phones, talk to patients and their families must be nice and polite – they represent our company and my person. I already tell them during the interview that here we give away good, positive energy and love. Thanks to the clinic in Chorzów I am happy to have a close contact with our patients, I know them by their names, we remember about their birthdays and give them birthday cards with wishes, I hug them and tell them that I love them. They give it back to me with even more gratitiude. I can see it in their eyes, they also send to me kind text messages with gratefullness words and hearts.
At the clinic you have also created a place where elderly people may socialize, where did this idea come from?
In our country, unfortunately, it often happens that elderly people become alienated from the rest of the society. I definitely don’t agree with it. I think they should get together at club rooms or similar places, and spend time in an interesting way because every day outside home is for those people a motivation to live actively and it makes them happier. Therefore, I have created such a place at the clinic. Similar thing should be done for disabled people. My clinic promotes active life and prevention. We encourage being active, which is the most crucial element of the therapy as it has positive impact on the state of our body and mind, which in turn prologns our lives and improves its quality.
An important part of our treatment process are also trainings given to families of elderly people about how to take care of such persons, especially in cases of serious disease such as Alzheimer. We also give them psychological support, especially when they share with us their feelings, often suffering and they don’t want to give their parents to a nursing home.
The medical services provided at BetaMed are dedicated also to other age groups. What do they include?
We offer comprehensive medical care to the patients. We invite them to visit General Practitioners (GP) – we provide free medical care of internists (under the contract with National Healthcare Fund) and consultancy with doctors specialising in: alergology, surgery, diabetes treatment, cardiology, otolaryngology, neurology, ophthalmology, dentistry, orthopedics and occupational medicine. In our clinic you may also get professional help of psychologists. A multi-disciplinary center has been created for persons who would like to receive private medical care.
Do you have to be courageous to run own company?
I often hear people saying I have „intuition for business”. I risk a lot, but I think you should do it wisely and carefully. On the one hand you can’t exaggerate, but on the other you can’t be afraid of investing. Unfortunately, you must pay certain costs to get payback later. I always stress that you have to take care of your employees – this will be beneficial one day. Perhaps in my all life I have alway taken a lot of risk, and I have been a person who sets own goals. I asked myself why I shouldn’t do things when I felt the opportunity.
Where do you get this load of positive energy from?
My children aks me the same question very often. It comes from the fact that what I do is my great passion and it gives me satisfaction. I sometimes sleep 3 to 5 hours a day, because I have to go to a conference or a business meeting. When I go on a business tri por even on holiday, I call BetaMed every day and talk to the employees. I can’t imagine a holiday with my mobile off. Then we are all much calmer, the employees and the patients know that even when I am at the end of the world, I think about them. I have also built the clinic like my own house. I chose the tiles or other parts of interior, not because I don’t trust others and can’t delegate duties, but because I like everything to look like in my dreams. When taking 60 million PLN credit, I wouldn’t like to worry that the money wasn’t invested properly.
What is your star sign?
Aquarius. I am not afraid of changes, as every 7 years I live somewhere else, because my life changes. I have raised my three children mostly on my own. The youngest son is still a teenager. I don’t support divorces, but sometimes it is the only way and I also say it to my employees who worry about it. I keep good relations with my both ex-husbands, and I tell my children that they have a wonderful father, I want them to be happy and they are.
You are a delicate, sensitive woman, but you can manage the company firmly.
One doesn’t exclude the other. I am persistent, decisive, courageous, but at work I value a family and nice atmosphere. I love people. The employees and the patients also return my friendliness. The employees send to me nice text messages with hearts, words of thanks. To me a success is when an employee comes to work with satisfaction because he or she likes this job and feels well treated. It happens that I hug someone as a welcome. I think they feel appreciated at work and they give their joy to our patients. I have friendly relations with my employees. I am very happy about it, we organize Christmas Parties, etc. People from HR know me very well and my expectations, so to the final stage of recruitment they choose candidates who are open and emphatetic. After so many years, an exchange of few sentences is enough for me to evaluate a person as a candidate to work with us.
Besides, I know one need to develop and accept the need for changes. There will always be a change at work, and I realized this after reading the book „ Who took my cheese”. Now I know one should not get used to a situation, because it can always change. Organizational skills are also necessary here, to manage the chanages properly and to conform with various requirements. Since I accepted this fact, it has been easier to me.
You have developed your activity also outside Poland and Europe. You perform many other roles, including the honorable ones. Is it true you have been awarded as the first person with the title of ambasador for Nevada business in Poland and in the world?
This was granted and given to me by the governor of Nevada Mr Brian Sandoval for promotion of Nevada as the state firendly to etrepreneurs. I talked about it in all articles, interviews, on the radio and tv. I talked about it for 3 years because I personally experienced their support and help while setting up BETAMED International. Together with the Polish consul of honor Mr John Petkus, the director for Nevada development Mr Chris Sanchez, with the director of the Polish-American Chamber Ms Iwona Pozorska and its director Mr Jakub Menrala as well as with the Polish representatives – the marshal of the Silesian voivodship and the Regional Chamber of Economy in Katowice, we arranged trips and meetings for entrepreneurs and universities from both sides. I organized economy meetings for Polish, innovative etrepreneurs who have preferential conditions there. Meetings in hospitals, at universities were organized, on my request, to get to know more about our services and about what medical personnel I would need. I was asked to open my division in Las Vegas. I was introduced with enthusiasm to many important persons who were to support me.I was really moved by the way I was welcomed, introduced and motivated to act as an entrepreneur. In Poland and during my foreign trips I present the dynamics of development at that American state. I talk about how they look for start-ups, new ideas, companies which would like to invest there and develop sales market there. I do it with enthusiasm because I am the prove myself that it is possible to open a company there. New business people came there, and new businees missions started. Positive legislative changes were introduced in Nevada.
You have a lot of responsibilities and you perform many social role salso for Polish organizations, such as the European Business Club or the National Chamber of Commerce, etc. How do you charge you batteries?
I go jogging, travelling, dancing and most of all I meet my friends. My children and my family all take part in it. I love every type of music from latino, wedding songs and I love that song: „When I become your angel”. I think spending time together and exchanging energy between generations teach us respect for elderly people, who we will all become one day, if we make it …