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Move Over Mr Whippy Here Comes Plunket

Well child health checks for children under five years of age are about to become as popular as Mr Whippy when Plunket's latest child health initiative, a bus converted to a mobile Plunket clinic, begins operating on streets in Wellington and Wairarapa.

Known as Plunket on Wheels, the mobile clinic is another option for families to use to ensure that children receive their well child health checks. Plunket also operates: home visits; day, twilight and Saturday morning clinics at Plunket Rooms; suitcase clinics (when the Plunket nurse goes to a block of flats and runs a clinic); visits to early childhood centres and Nga Kohanga Reo.

The mobile clinic will initially operate in the Hutt Valley on Wednesdays, with its exact whereabouts made known through letterbox drops the day before and by Plunket nurses playing music and announcing the clinic's arrival by using a speaker system from the mobile clinic, similar to the Mr Whippy vans.

As Plunket staff become familiar with driving and working in the mobile clinic and families become accustomed to the service, and hopefully more funding comes through, the use of the mobile clinic will increase with other cities and towns in Wellington and Wairarapa covered.

Plunket's Wellington Wairarapa area manager, Esther Read, said that the two staff members on the mobile clinic would comprise a Plunket nurse and either a Plunket Kaiawhina (Maori health worker) or a Community Karitane (Pacific health worker).

Plunket successfully operates three other mobile clinics in Northland, South Auckland and West Auckland. Families without transport are using the mobile clinics for childrens' health checks.

The bus was purchased and refurbished as a clinic with $80,000 provided by The Warehouse. Plunket volunteers in the greater Wellington area have fund-raised $6,000 and The Todd Foundation has given $20,000. Combined, this money will be used to operate the clinic and pay for diesel, road user charges, licence, maintenance, vehicle upkeep and nursing and medical resources needed for the clinic.

John Todd, representing the Todd Foundation, this morning handed the mobile clinic over to Plunket chief executive, Paul Baigent and the Plunket nurses who will drive the bus and operate the clinic. Ends

Information from: Royal New Zealand Plunket Society Inc Contact: Esther Read, Wellington Wairarapa Area Manager Telephone 04 569 1568 (business); 04 570 0775 (home); 025 949 063 (mobile)

Issued by: Joanne Ruscoe, Telephone 04 471 6252 (business); 04 479 2923 (home); 025 925 733 (mobile)

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