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Innovation in Health alive and well

Innovation in Health alive and well

The Bay of Plenty District Health Board’s annual innovation awards highlighted a range of smart thinking by the region’s health professionals.

Six finalists presented to judges at a dinner and ceremony at Mills Reef on October 16th.

“The judges found it a challenge to award winners, as all the presentations were exceptional,” says Learning Plus manager Sarah Strong, who organised the awards.

First place and a prize of $4000 went to John Miller of Foot Mechanics. John’s company has delivered a community podiatry funded by the BOPDHB through Eastern Bay PHO and played a significant role in preventing serious complications in people with diabetes.

“Fifty per cent of all lower limb amputations are due to diabetes,” he said. “Of these, 85 per cent begin with a foot ulcer. If podiatrists can treat these patients in the early stages, it can greatly reduce the likelihood of amputation.”

His service has seen more than 2000 people in the past year and he said around 66 ulcers have been treated. It has since been expanded to cover both Eastern and Western Bay of Plenty, and is delivered in a wide range of community settings, including marae.

Nurses Anne Hishon and Tony Lawson won second place ($3000) with their pilot project of a nurse-led rapid response service for the older person in the Emergency Department.

Gerontology nurse Anne said the emergency department environment was particularly stressful for older people and a successful discharge was more likely if their post-ED needs were assessed and met. “The aim is to support the older person by ensuring access to primary care agencies that can support them in their recovery. These interventions can prevent or delay subsequent decline in the older person.”

In third place ($2000) oral health manager/dental therapist Minnie McGibbon of the Te Manu Toroa Trust won acclaim for establishing a mobile dental unit for children most in need of oral health care.

The Te Manu Toroa Kaupapa Maori Dental Service delivers clinical treatment, oral health promotion/disease prevention education and whanau support to the seven primary schools in Tauranga, Te Puke and Maketu where more than 80 per cent of the roll are children who identify as Maori. The mobile unit has recently agreed to visit the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, to deliver a dental service to teenage mothers and preschool children, and has identified a need to support the region’s Kohanga Reo. A local dentist has joined the team enabling patients and their whanau access to specialist care in the mobile unit.

The People’s Choice Award went to anaesthetic registrar Thomas Fernandez and nurse specialist Scott Jones for their audit of the use of transdermal fentanyl patches with post-surgical inpatients coming off pain pumps, who were struggling with other forms of pain relief.

The retrospective study of 344 patients suggested that the risks associated with the use of fentanyl patches may have been over-emphasised.

“It is generally used for cancer patients but we felt it could be used effectively in the post-operative setting,” said Scott.

Other finalists were the Kawerau Home Safety for Preschoolers Pilot Project, (whose project won a Safekids Award at the 2008 SafeKids Conference and a New Zealand Community Safety and Injury Prevention Award) and Dr Michael Ratna for a lithium monitoring audit for community health patients.

Last year’s winner, Terri Webby, spoke to the group about the international interest sparked by her project, healthy eating at Kohanga Reo. She has since visited health organisations in Australia, keen to hear more about her initiatives.


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