Health Hub help­ing ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties

Cambridge Edition - - OUT & ABOUT -

For 10 months of the year the bus trav­els the coun­try, from Kaikohe to Bal­clutha, per­form­ing sched­uled day surg­eries in small towns and ru­ral cen­tres. It works closely with district health boards and lo­cal nurses to en­sure ru­ral peo­ple have bet­ter ac­cess to sur- gery.

Ru­ral Health Al­liance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ) is back­ing the Fiel­d­ays Health Hub.

RHAANZ CEO Michelle Thomp­son said ru­ral peo­ple are los­ing out when it comes to health.

‘‘Of the scant data that ex­ists, we know that the health out­comes for ru­ral peo­ple are poorer than for ur­ban peo­ple,’’ said Thomp­son.

‘‘Agri­cul­ture, along with tourism, is the power base of the New Zealand econ­omy. It makes good eco­nomic sense for the Gov­ern­ment to fo­cus on the peo­ple sup­port­ing the ru­ral econ­omy.’’

Thomp­son es­ti­mated that there were about 600,000 peo­ple liv­ing ru­rally, from Cape Reinga to Bluff.

‘‘If it were a city that would be New Zealand’s sec­ond largest city, and it doesn’t feel like the ru­ral sec­tor gets that level of at­ten­tion when it comes to health,’’ said Thomp­son.

Poor ac­cess to health­care or de­lay in seek­ing treat­ment help can im­pact many med­i­cal con­di­tions, which be­come more se­ri­ous than if they were treated ear­lier.

Thomp­son said the bar­ri­ers to good health are var­ied. They in­clude lack of GPs and aged-care work­ers in some ru­ral ar­eas, lim­ited ac­cess to health­care screen­ings or treat­ment due to ge­o­graphic iso­la­tion, em­bar­rass­ment or dif­fi­culty talk­ing about symp­toms, and work pres­sures (it can be hard to ‘take time’ away from the farm, es­pe­cially dur­ing busy sea­sons or if short-staffed).

ME­GAN HUNT

Clin­i­cal nurse leader Liz Grant and CEO Mark Ea­ger and anes­thetic tech­ni­cian Sue Nilsen on the op­er­at­ing ta­ble in­side the sur­gi­cal truck. The Health Hub will be a fea­ture at this year’s Fiel­d­ays.

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