On December the 4th we celebrate 10 years of ReproMed, a journey started by our CEO & Senior Clinical Embryologist Declan Keane. Read below some of his reflections on the past, present and future of ReproMed.
What drove you to set up ReproMed?
ReproMed was borne from a drive within me to strive for excellence and acknowledge the human element in Fertility Care. This is often what is most absent in Fertility Services. I wanted to build something different to the clinics that previously existed in Ireland. These clinics revolved around the owners. These clinics were staffed by people who cared about medical protocols but who often did not concentrate on the holistic patient wellbeing. I wanted to control and design my own version of what I thought a ‘community based’ fertility clinic should be all about:- patient-centred healthcare. A place where patients felt part of the community of the Medical team, Admin, Nurses and Scientists. A clinic that would be good to patients, be a nice place to work, and something I could leave behind me when I had retired myself. I want to be proud of ReproMed.
Being an embryologist helped create lives but I wanted to build something which would be physically prominent on the Irish Healthcare landscape. ReproMed and all the people who work with me in it, has helped me to feel I accomplished that.
Can you recall what those early years were like?
It was very difficult to force myself to leave the security and the comfort of being an employee of the leading IVF clinic in Ireland. I was one of the first 10 scientists to practice Human Embryology in Ireland starting in 1992. By the time I came to set up ReproMed in 2009, I was at the pinnacle of my Embryology career, heavily involved in the Irish scene and in the UK academic and professional membership schemes. But I remember a brother of mine saying if you really believe you can do something different, why not have faith in yourself and the intelligence of the patients who need honest, unbiased help and care. He said, “Step off the precipice and the parachute will open”. So I did, and I am gliding through my professional life with a huge sense of accomplishment and achievement since then. Many people along the way have been instrumental to my success, too many to mention here, but all are remembered fondly. None are forgotten including patients who made permanent impressions on my life and even touched my own family life, some are very close friends of ours now. The people who helped me the most are those who already know I owe them so much- they don’t need me to type their names.
When I started ReproMed first day it was actually in Kilkenny. Then in South Dublin a second clinic. Then the holistic medicine Clinic in DunLaoire. Then another in Barrington’s Hospital in Limerick. I worked all day and long into the night. I ran it on a tight budget so that clients didn’t have to overpay. The fees I charge are always overt. I can show you the bill I receive to do a service for you and I charge for my professional advice and help to interpret and guide you to the best outcome with the best of my abilities. No promises, just honesty. Simple!
I didn’t pay myself for the first two years but lived off my wife’s salary. However, I loved seeing the patient base growing due to my efforts and our successes. It was hugely rewarding. Then a few years of exponential growth followed. I knew I could not continue as a ‘Key-man’ clinic. So I hand-picked and brought in a team of people to protect me from myself and my work ethic, but who equally wanted to grow ReproMed, and who all to their core also believed in perpetuating ‘The ReproMed Way’. Then stability in the form of key staff appointments came to pass. The rest is history.
What changes have you seen over the past 10 years?
My hair is greyer. Despite trying to stop getting older; in my heart, I am still 30, I feel I have matured hugely and every decade as I look back I see just how many life lessons I have learned.
ReproMed is now what I fondly describe as a baby kitten that has grown up into a full adult Tiger. As the clinic grew, so did staff numbers and skillsets. I have matured and grown emotionally. Now I have a family of over 90 people working with me. But ReproMed is still my baby.
What are you most proud of in ReproMed?
The people who work here, and all the thousands of babies I have helped people bring into the world. Despite being a laid back person to most observers, I can be serious, and I did love being an embryologist. Being a Clinic Director still results in live births and happy families, just at more ‘arms-length’. Currently, our pregnancy rates under the team organisation are world-class. Really, every clinic claims to be world-class but we've started to publish our pregnancy rates every 6 months in ‘real-time’ because this is what matters to clients seeking help now. What a clinic was doing two years ago is of no interest to the current client who wants to have a baby. See our website to understand what I mean.
Our success stories and testimonials are where I find most pride. These feedback stories I am extremely proud of. No matter what job in this clinic a member of staff performs their standard of work and diligence is impacting on ever-improving pregnancy rates. So every one of the ReproMed staff have babies to be proud of their involvement in bringing into this world.
What do the next 10 years in ReproMed look like?
Spinning plates, juggling balls, planets aligning, and chess pieces. Those who know me will translate that as “He has a plan, it will be good, but it is stuck in his head and created in his heart”.
But I promise the future will be exciting and inclusive of all the loyal, hardworking ReproMed staff. Our family will get bigger!