Born to parents Naranji and Gajra Patel in 1949, Kantilal grew up in a small town called Gilgil, near Nairobi in Kenya, East Africa, with one brother and two sisters. The family ran a general store.
In 1962, the Patels moved to Gujarat, India. After finishing school, Kantilal was accepted into Baroda Medical College.
Meanwhile, Ranjna was born in Herne Bay to Jimmy and Kanta Kanji. Originally from Gujarat, the Kanjis settled in Auckland working as greengrocers, and here Ranjna was raised, with her extended family. She studied at Auckland Girls Grammar.
Although always keen to pursue a career in medicine, Ranjna instead established a career working in general practice and community activities. At age 24, Kantilal and his family received a proposal from the Kanjis to marry their daughter. The pair met and liked the idea, married and settled in Auckland in 1974.
Kantilal worked in endocrinology and orthopaedics at Auckland Hospital until he gained New Zealand full registration in 1975, also the year the first of their three children (Rakesh, Meena and Depak) was born. They purchased a solo GP clinic in Otara in 1977, which was staffed by just Kantilal and Ranjna.
It was during the 1980s that Kantilal developed the interest in systems, management of clinical services and population healthcare. In 1984, he purchased his first clinic computer for approximately $40,000 that required a controlled climate environment, and served as a launching pad for the development of more systems for managing population health.
East Tamaki Healthcare
To build this interest into a service for the communities that had welcomed him, Kantilal realised the need for more GP practices. This initiated the development of the Dawson Rd clinic, which outgrew its premises in 18 months.
In 1991, a purpose-built medical centre was built at Dawson Rd, including laboratory, dentist, physiotherapist, chemist and the doctors' rooms. In 1996, the Bairds Road centre became part of the what was by then East Tamaki Healthcare, set up by a number of the principal doctors.
In 1997, East Tamaki Healthcare took its first step out of Counties Manukau and bought a clinic in Glen Innes through its partnering with a local GP Ellis Situe, who remains a shareholder and director of many of the group’s companies.
As other new suburbs like Botany, Dannemora and Sylvia Park grew in the region, ETHC has been ready to provide general practice services to their populations.
In many instances, ETHC has developed purpose built clinics and now has a presence in central and west Auckland as well as south, and enjoys close relationships with many clinicians across the city.
Nirvana Health Group
Nirvana Health Group is the umbrella organisation for the network of 35 clinics – clinicians are freed up to focus on care, while Nirvana Health manages payroll, IT, HR, rosters, education, contracting and more.
As founder of the group, Kantilal remains a director, provides clinical leadership, and works as a GP. He is heavily involved in the development of clinical delivery systems.
Ranjna, too, is a director of the group and continues to work in the business.
Rakesh is the managing director of Nirvana Health and has recently graduated from the OPM program at Harvard Business School. He’s a member of the NZICA, NZID, and has a commerce degree and an MBA from Auckland University.