Back to basics for health manager
Responsibility for community health should stay in local handsPENNY WARDLE
Responsibility for looking after the health of the Marlborough community should stay in Marlborough hands, says Marlborough Primary Health Organisation (PHO) manager Christine Smith, who is leaving the region to work in Christchurch.
The Marlborough Primary Health Organisation (Kimi Hauora Wairau) funds and co-ordinates primary healthcare in Marlborough.
It oversees GP practices and programmes including cardio-vascular risk assessment, diabetes management, promoting healthy eating, improving Maori and Pacific health and ensuring people with multiple chronic conditions can afford to see doctor.
Ms Smith said that with 43,000 patients enrolled with GPs, Marlborough was big enough to support a primary health system and small enough to have strong links between the PHO and the community.
"We have had a lot of feedback from GPs and others that they want to maintain a Marlborough PHO," she said.
With Joe Puketapu as PHO chairman, Ms Smith was confident the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board would support this position.
Take decision-making out of a community and links became tenuous and decisions unrealistic, she said.
In August, Ms Smith will join the aged-care sector as a facility manager overseeing hospital level, dementia and rest-home level care of 97 people.
For personal and professional reasons, towards the end of her career she wanted to get closer to patients, Ms Smith said.
In preparation, she has freshened up nursing qualifications through a competency assessment programme and worked part-time at Lakewood Home and Hospital in Lakings Rd, Blenheim.
She is also looking forward to rejoining her family and partner in Christchurch.
"We have recruited and retained some terrific people and I have absolute confidence in our board," she said.
Highlights of her time in Marlborough included the opening of the Wairau Community Clinic, a not-for-profit subsidiary of the PHO, on April 2. Two new doctors would soon join Scott Cameron in this practice which had helped overcome a GP shortage in Marlborough.
Ms Smith also enjoyed seeing the PHO build connections with Maori health providers and Pacific communities.
Developments to look forward to in Marlborough include a new community-based clinic to treat persistent non-malignant pain, said Ms Smith. A one-year pilot would begin next month, combining medical, physiotherapy and psychotherapy approaches.
A recent win for the PHO was the imminent return of a community dietitian – two-thirds funded by the district health board - on July 2, she said. Previously, the board fully funded the position.
An interim replacement will fill Ms Smith's position until the PHO board appoints a new manager.
- The Marlborough Express