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At the front line of health care

At the front line of health care

Uputaua Suniula standing in front of Porirua Union & Community Health Service

Becoming a nurse has been a life changing decision for Uputaua Suniula, as she battles not only to help patients, but also to prevent health problems from developing in the first place.

“One of the problems we face is that teenagers and children don’t come in to see a doctor till they’re really sick,” Uputaua says.

“What could’ve been addressed in the clinic instead becomes complex, at which point they become an inpatient in the hospital.”

Uputaua has worked on the front line of healthcare at both Waitangirua and Porirua’s Community Health Service, two of the most challenging areas within Capital & Coast’s District Health Board region.

She says that she has found the experience empowering.

“The positive impact I can make within the community has been mind blowing, especially working as the first point of contact for people in need,” Uputaua says.

“My focus is to work with Porirua’s young population to help develop prevention strategies that can stop acute presentations of preventable things like asthma and skin infections, reduce the strain on hospital services, as well as lower our overall healthcare costs.”

One campaign Uputaua works closely on is the rheumatic fever prevention program in Porirua.

As Uputaua explains, a sore throat is an early indicator of the disease, which can cause a lifetime of heart issues, “it’s all about treating the patient early, before they develop a serious problem.”

Uputaua is now working towards a post graduate certificate of nursing with the aim to gain masters qualification specialising in primary health care. An impressive feat considering she did not complete high school and had two children by the age of 17.

Her wider awareness of healthcare was recently recognised with the Margaret Faulkner graduate award for her commitment to compassionate care and best practice principals.


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