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Leagh Mitchell Occupational Health Training Facilitator
South Africa

I qualified as a registered general, community and psychiatric nurse and midwife in 1990 in Johannesburg and was awarded the certificate for the best midwife for that year. I qualified as specialist community health and primary health care nurse in 1995. Whilst working at the then Department of Population Development I started the peri-urban primary healthcare services in Carletonville which provided mobile healthcare to thousands of vulnerable and disadvantaged South Africans who lived outside of the municipal boundaries. I completed various certificates to equip me for this role, sectoral community development, family planning and junior management to name a few. In 1993 as part of this service I started fixed primary health clinic for 10 000 people living in informal housing in the Carletonville area.

I joined AngloGold Ashanti in 1995 where I started my occupational health career. In 1999 I obtained a B-Tech in Occupational Health; I was the top student in the class of 1999 at TWR (Technicon Witwatersrand). I attended the Advanced Trauma and Life support course and completed the dispensing course. Until this point, I worked alone or with a translator. After being promoted to manager of occupational health – west rand region at AngloGold Ashanti I had to learn to not only be a manager but to work in a team of 60 other people providing services to 300 000 employees and contractors per year.

In 2003 I joined OCSA as the National Operations Executive providing various healthcare solutions to industry in Southern African (South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique and Namibia). I lead a team of 6 -13 managers and a staff compliment of between 200 permanent staff and 200 – 400 temporary locum staff depending of the projects. My team and I managed 95 – 109 permanent clinics, walk-in clinic in each major province of South Africa and 14 mobile units. We provided quality, innovative and integrated occupational health services to more than 200 clients nationally and 350 000 employees at any given time. Our largest client employed 100 000 employees and our smallest only 30. I was privileged to be part of an executive team that grew OCSA’s turnover by 32% year on year. Together we created various new business streams within the company and became bench makers in the industry. When OCSA was sold to MMI in 2016, I took early retirement to join my husband Bill who retired on the 1st of October 2016.

Since retiring I have lectured at the University of Johannesburg for 2 years (2017 and 2018) to Occupational Health B-Cur students. I facilitate various short courses for Education for Health Africa, develop training material and provided consultancy services to start-up occupational healthcare companies and audited occupational health clinics locally and on the African continent, audited and advised frail care facilities in legal compliance.

After work there is play and Bill and I travel looking for unseen birds for our personal bird lists. I spend hours learning the art of classical antique hand embroidery and enjoy being young and frivolous with my 3 grandchildren and a teenage niece.

I give thanks for the privileged opportunities I have had in my career, for the mentors and wonderful colleagues who I have worked with. It’s time to give back, to share and empower others for the future that lies ahead.

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