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Mobile Ear Clinic Drives Back Into Action

Media Statement

Tuesday 30 March 2004

Mobile Ear Clinic Drives Back Into Action

Tairawhiti District Health’s Ear Clinic on wheels will drive back into familiar territory this Friday when it is officially launched at a morning ceremony at Te Hapara School.

“We wanted to launch the clinic in a children’s environment and Te Hapara School kindly accepted to play host for this occasion,” said Tairawhiti District Health (TDH) Community Ear Nurse Tara Barrie.

The new clinic, which from the outside looks like a brightly coloured motor home, features state of the art fittings making it no different than an ear clinic facility usually found in a building.

Inside the Mobile Ear Clinic is an office, a patient’s treatment chair, and microscope with video equipment so caregivers can watch ear procedures being carried out.

“It’s not quite NASA but it is certainly a fantastic facility to have when traveling to schools and other venues in the four corners of Tairawhiti,” Mrs Barrie said.

A donation of $60,000 from Variety – The Children’s Charity has put Tairawhiti’s Mobile Ear Clinic service back on the road.

Mrs Barrie said a Mobile Ear Clinic first hit Tairawhiti roads in 1993 in response to a need to significantly improve the hearing statistics of Tairawhiti children. It was totally funded by Variety - The Children’s Charity, but has since been retired.

For the past 18 months the Community Ear Nurse has worked out of a central-city clinic.

Now however, because of another generous donation from Variety, as well as funding from Tairawhiti District Health, a new van is set to hit the road again.

“Children’s ears, just like their eyes, are their window to the world, so we are ecstatic we have been able to get the mobile clinic up and running again,” Mrs Barrie said.

“A child with glue ear or hearing loss is going to find learning to read and write at school very hard. They will also find it hard to reach their social and academic potential. But if a problem is diagnosed, treatment can begin and your child will have a better chance at learning.”

“Accessibility is a problem, especially for children up the Coast, so taking the service to them, ensures they have equal opportunity to diagnostic and treatment facilities to protect their hearing. Already, I have seen too many children who have complications from chronic cases of glue ear which may have been prevented with early intervention.”

Mrs Barrie said the new ear clinic, will travel North to Potaka, South to the Whareratas, and West to Motu. She expects to see around 20-30 children a day, 1200 children a year.

Executive Director of Variety – The Children’s Charity, Laura Langford, said it was a pleasure to be able to help fund the van.

“One of the purposes of Variety is to assist with children’s health issues particularly where there is a need, or geographic isolation.”

For more information about the Hearing Programme, phone the Public Health Unit on (06) 867 9119 or to make an appointment with either the Vision Hearing Technicians or Community Ear Nurse phone (06) 868 9005.

Opening of the new Mobile Ear Clinic:

Friday 2 April 2004 Te Hapara School Mill Road Gisborne 9.15am-10.10am

Background Information

In this region, TDH Vision Hearing Technicians provide glue ear screening for all pre-schoolers, with three olds being the target group. At age five, a hearing test is included. If there is a problem identified, the child is then referred to the Community Ear Nurse, who travels in the Mobile Ear Van.

Tairawhiti District Health (TDH) Community Ear Nurse Tara Barrie said the Community Ear Nurse works out of the ear clinic at schools and childhood centres.

“A child will be referred by the Technician for further assessment or treatment. For most children referred to the Ear Nurse, a condition called Glue Ear is generally the diagnosis.”

A build up of glue-like fluid in the middle ear, prevents the eardrum moving normally thereby reducing a child’s ability to hear sounds well.

In this situation the Ear Nurse monitors or refers children to their GP or the hospital. The condition can resolve on it’s own. If not, the ear, nose and throat specialist may decide the treatment for your child could be for a simple surgical procedure to insert grommets.

A small incision is made on the eardrum, the built up fluid from the middle ear is suctioned and then a small plastic insert known as a grommet placed is placed on the eardrum allowing air from the external ear canal to enter the middle ear.

These children are then followed up by the Community Ear Nurse or GP when discharged from hospital.

“As you can see Tairawhiti has a dedicated team, working together to significantly improve local hearing statistics,“ Mrs Barrie said.


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