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Tauranga Hospital goes to aid of Fijian facility

Tauranga Hospital goes to aid of Fijian facility

Tauranga’s Grace Hospital has gifted well over $50,000 worth of operating theatre equipment to Lautoka Hospital in Fiji – in a generous follow up to staff volunteer medical team visits there.

A Grace team visited Lautoka in June (2013) on the second of two visits as unpaid volunteers – to tackle difficult elective procedures, and help train local staff under the Friends of Fiji Health (FOFH) programme.

The programme was set up in 2010 by seven expat Fijian doctors and businessmen who wanted to give something back to their homeland. FOFH’s main aim is to send teams of specialists to Fiji periodically, to provide medical treatment for the neediest locals. The Tauranga teams have been led by surgeon Avinesh Kumar and his GP wife Amrita.

Grace Hospital General Manager Janet Keys says that on this latest visit, volunteers could see the “terrible need” for more modern equipment, and when they asked about the equipment sitting in storage “we were very happy to donate it.” The items are an anaesthetic machine, bladder scanner, and two patient warmers.

The hospital last year loaned operating theatre instruments to the team heading to Lautoka.

Ms Keys says while their efforts might be something of a drop in a bucket in terms of the Fiji region’s health needs, it’s gratifying to be able to contribute – especially being aware of the difficult conditions medical practitioners are working under.

Mr Kumar says FOFH is extremely grateful for Grace Hospital’s support, noting that at Lautoka Hospital there are two operating theatres to serve a district population of 300,000.

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He says that their visits provide some “respite” for overworked local doctors, and the team is able to tackle difficult cases which tend to “pile up” because of these patient pressures.

"Most of the time, they do acute cases and elective work is for whenever.

"This is where we can fill in and do some, but not all."

Mr Kumar says a major emphasis is upskilling student doctors and theatre nurses, especially in the latest laparoscopic (keyhole) techniques.

Anaesthetist Dr Reta McLeod, who was part in the first trip to Lautoka Hospital, says the donated anaesthetic machine will be very beneficial, as one that’s reliable and trustworthy “because we know it’s been serviced.”

The first one she used there had been “very primitive.”

More FOFH-funded medical visits are in the planning stages.

Other contributors to the FOFH programme have included Pathlab Bay of Plenty which carried out some free cervical smear testing, New Zealand-based medical supplies companies such as Coviden, Ethicon Surgical, Johnson & Johnson, and firms such as Mc Donald’s in both Auckland and Fiji, and Vodafone.

Tauranga nurses even collected donated clothing for premature babies and breast pumps for nursing mothers, to take along on last year’s trip.


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