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New Rural Nurse for Matawai

New Rural Nurse for Matawai.

Matawai’s new rural health nurse is Tairawhiti District Health’s former Director of Nursing Practice Carol Ford.

Ms Ford was appointed to the position of locum rural health nurse following the resignation of Rural Public Health Nurse, Leonie Clark.

Ms Ford will be based in Matawai which is part of a geographical region known as a Special Area Doctor area. It has services based in Te Karaka and clinics that run out of Matawai and Whatatutu.

“I’m thrilled to be out here,” said Ms Ford, who has over 30 years experience in nursing, predominantly in emergency, intensive and palliative nursing.

“As a rural nurse I will often be people’s first point of contact with our health system and because of that I am in a unique position to promote healthy lifestyle changes as well as guide people through the complexity of health services, which can be daunting.”

Ms Ford first became interested in rural nursing 10 years ago when she saw a presentation by a Fox Glacier nurse. After joining Tairawhiti District Health in 2000 Ms Ford said she was inspired by the work of the rural health nurses from the East Coast.

“The possibility of a change in career direction grew from there.” Ms Ford’s appointment coincides with the appointment of Rural Health Nurse Caroline Ellis, and the return of Rural Health Nurse Leanne Hutt from maternity leave.

Both these nurses will work out of the Te Karaka clinic.

Chairman of the Matawai Community Health Committee Winston Hustler said the district was pleased with the appointment.

“We would prefer that Carol’s nursing hours be 40 hours a week in the Matawai community instead of 24 hours nursing in Matawai and 16 working on special projects in the wider area, but in saying that, we are thrilled she is here.”

Mr Hustler said it was important rural residents have access to services within “the golden hour”.

“It is equally important they have access to services such as mental health and palliative care. Carol’s arrival is really good news.”

While at Matawai Ms Ford will be working with the community as it makes the transition to becoming part of a Primary Health Organisation (PHO). Currently residents in the Special Area Doctor area do not come under the umbrella of either of Tairawhiti’s PHOs

Tairawhiti District Health Chief Executive Jim Green said the job of any health professional in a rural area is difficult and he was delighted that the Matawai position had attracted a nurse of Carol Ford’s calibre and experience.

Mr Green said over the past year, in recognition of the need to improve rural health services and offer greater support to rural staff, Tairawhiti District Health had implemented a number of rural initiatives.

In one step to improve services, after hours calls to Waikohu Medical Centre are automatically transferred to Healthline – the free 24-hour health information and advice line.

Healthline provides advice on symptom management, information about availability and location of services, and a referral connection to other emergency services if needed.

Ms Ford supports Healthline. “It is an excellent option for people unsure of the urgency of health problems they are experiencing.” Mr Green encouraged all people living in the Western Rural area, including Matawai residents, to make more use of Healthline.

“The community can support rural health staff after hours by utilising this service more.”

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