New medical centre to link with pharmacy and community centre

The doctors from Toi Toi Medical. Ngaire Warner (left), Debs Harrison, Claire Thurlow and Rebecca Velluppillai.
Samantha Gee

The doctors from Toi Toi Medical. Ngaire Warner (left), Debs Harrison, Claire Thurlow and Rebecca Velluppillai.

Four Nelson doctors are joining forces to create a new medical centre with strong links to its community in central Nelson.

From September 1, Harrison Moore Medical in Natalie St will become Toi Toi Medical. The new practice is focused on a community approach to health and would work closely with Victory Square Pharmacy and the Victory Community Centre. 

Dr Debs Harrison said she bought the practice from a retiring GP seven years ago. It's expansion was a chance for the practice to further integrate with other health services. 

"We place enormous value in linking in with other services in our community," Harrison said. 

The four doctors brought a broad mix of skills to the practice. Dr Ngaire Warner said she had an interest in refugee medicine, palliative care and older people's health while Dr Claire Thurlow​ came from a background in sexual health and family planning with a special interest in transgender medicine..  

Dr Rebecca Velluppillai​ said she enjoyed the broad nature of general practice and also had an interest in paediatrics. While Harrison had an interest in youth health and respiratory medicine. 

Both Thurlow and Harrison were also forensic examiners for the police. 

Warner said having another two GPs come on board meant the practice could offer more appointment times and also enrol more people. 

While the practice was located near town, Warner said it also had patients from Golden Bay, Tapawera and Marlborough. 

She said they decided on the name Toi Toi Medical not just because of it's location, but also because in Maori the words meant to encourage, inspire and motivate. 

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"This is a perfect fit for us, because this is exactly what we aim to do in our general practice," Warner said.

Victory Community Centre nurse Rachel Thomas said there were high health needs in the Victory community and a stronger connection between GPs, pharmacy and the centre would increase the social support for people.

The community centre and pharmacy often saw different parts of the community as not everyone was enrolled with a general practice. 

"Some will engage with the pharmacy and not with the community centre and vice versa but either way you need support, you need the medication and you need the GPs to prescribe," Thomas said.

Victory Square Pharmacy owner and pharmacist Dee Magee​ said she had learnt that patients wanted a relationship with their health provider, whether it was a nurse, doctor or pharmacist.

She had spent nine years working in the Victory community and had made strong links with the community. 

"You get to know somebody and not just their health...that means you can care for them better because you understand them."

"Often we see patients more than anybody else because they are coming to us regularly for medication but maybe not seeing the doctor for three to six months."

The pharmacy was soon to move across the road into a bigger space with consultation rooms so the pharmacists could provide additional services, like prescribing the contraceptive pill. ​

Magee said the organisations could act as eyes and ears for each other in the community to identify health issues.

 - Stuff


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