Dr Tom on a mission to help far north

Dr Tom Mullholland and Meleane Bourke are taking their free clinic around the far north.
Bayley Moor

Dr Tom Mullholland and Meleane Bourke are taking their free clinic around the far north.

Dr Tom Mullholland's mobile ambulance is expected to see around 100 patients during its latest far north visit.

The retro medical vehicle is parking up in supermarket carparks to provide free health checks at Kerikeri, Kaikohe, Kaitaia, Kaeo and Takahue until March 22.

They aim to be the ambulance at the top of the cliff, says Mullholland.

Access to medical facilities due to travel and financial stresses can be a problem, he says.

"The most common comment at these visits is that getting a general health checkup is something they have been meaning to do.

"We are most often visited by people who haven't seen a doctor in the last 20 years. We can reverse the onset of diabetes by catching it at its early stages at these visits."

The finger prick test at the clinic is unique in that it can track the last three months worth of diabetic risk, which gives a greater assessment than a normal prick test which only reveals blood sugar levels of that day.

"We discuss with patients what their goals might be. Some say they want to be able to play with their grandchildren and this can be enough of a realisation to change their health habits."

Clinic assistant Meleane Bourke  says apart from genetically linked diabetes, it is possible to prevent the condition with an improved diet and exercise regime.

Around half the people who attended the clinic have received clear test results, but the rest have shown signs of a pre-diabetic condition, high cholesterol or decreased lung function due to smoking.

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Mullholland says most people can turn their health around if they are ready, willing and able to change some habits.

The team is hoping to visit as many smaller communities as they can on a trip that will see them reach Invercargill by August.

Workshops are also being held to educate doctors around changing the conversation about healthy thinking.

Visit http://www.drtomonamission.com/ for details.

 - Stuff

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