Carry on nurse, ignore the bull

Rural nurses on call

HELEN HARVEY
Last updated 05:00 10/06/2014
nurse
CHARLOTTE CURD/FAIRFAX NZ
Urenui district health nurse Shirley-Anne Managh has been looking after the needs of people in Urenui for 25 years.

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Dogs are a minor distraction compared to visiting a family with a bull loose in the front yard.

The family came out and shooed it around to the back, Urenui district nurse Shirley-Anne Managh said.

Managh is one of two district health nurses who work for the Urenui and Districts Health Group.

The bull kept its distance, unlike a goat she found standing on top of her car after a different home visit.

After 25 years working in a rural area, she is used to driving 75 minutes to do a 10-minute dressing.

And keeping the gumboots - Red Bands of course - handy is a necessity to cross flooded streams or clamber over slips as she had to last year.

Her husband had gone out before the hill came down, so he had to leave his car on the other side of the slip. To get to work Managh had to drive to the slip, don the gumboots and climb over the mud to get to her husband's vehicle on the other side.

The Health Group was started in 1987 when a group of nurses went on a course to establish a first response system to deal with accidents and emergencies between Onaero and Mt Messenger.

There are now five first responders, who are all volunteers. Their equipment and training is paid for by donations.

The health group, one of the smallest in the country, is run by a committee of volunteers, and has a contract with the Taranaki District Health Board to run the district health service.

Two nurses are needed to be on call seven days a week and over the years Managh has worked with a number of other nurses.

They leave to get a job with regular hours, she said.

The job in Urenui isn't full time so the nurses work when they are needed.

"You have to be flexible," she said.

Living on a sheep and beef farm with four children, it worked well for her.

About six years ago, the nurses initiated a walk-in clinic on Fridays.

Now a grandmother, Managh is starting to wonder if she is getting to the point where she might retire.

But not just yet.

"It's a wonderful community and I'm enjoying it."

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