Health service breaks new ground
Staff working on the new Urgent Community Care service in Porirua are certain it will make patients’ lives easier and safer.
The free service, which is introduced to the community this week, will mean when someone rings 111, their needs will be assessed by the operator, and depending on the severity of their illness or injury, may be categorised as ‘‘non-life threatening’’.
In this case, these people with minor medical issues can be treated by service paramedics in their homes, rather than being taken by ambulance to a hospital emergency department.
Emily Powell, the clinical lead for the team, said the service would make patients lives a lot easier, and would also reduce the number of people who would previously have been taken to the emergency department.
‘‘It’s much better if the problem can be dealt with in the community . . . help can be delivered straight to the patient’s home,’’ she said.
The service has operating in Kapiti for five years, and Powell said there had been a great response from the community and general health practitioners.
She has been working in Kapiti for two and a half years, and will now alternate between the Kapiti and Porirua.
She said the Kapiti service attended to many elderly people, but expected to see children benefiting the most from the Porirua service, especially in winter.
‘‘We expect to probably see children with breathing difficulties, sore throats and skin infections,’’ she said. These things are quite common around this time of year due to the weather,’’ Powell said.
Dr Andy Swain, medical director of Wellington Free Ambulance, has been involved with the Kapiti service from the beginning. He said Porirua patients would receive better and more tailored care as a result of the service.
‘‘It’s a more efficient approach in terms of care overall, because the paramedic will be dealing with [the patients’] problems at the source,’’ he said.
Swain and Powell stressed that nothing has changed about the ambulance service, and that people should call 111 if someone became sick or seriously hurt.
Community care: Wellington Free Ambulance medical director Dr Andy Swain and clinical lead Emily Powell.