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Key Primary Health Services Available During COVID-19 Alert Level 4

Young people, those with diabetes, and people requiring support for mental health will be among those who continue to receive specialist health services from the Western Bay of Plenty Primary Health Organisation during COVID-19 Alert Level 4.

Flu vaccines will also be available for those who want them, with priority groups currently being vaccinated and the general public able to receive them from 13 April.

Freephone (0800) numbers have been set up for the region’s secondary school students to continue to receive support from school health nurses, and for people with diabetes to receive advice and support from a specialised diabetes nurse.

School Health Services

School Health Services are available from Thursday 26 March on 0800 515 919 and will be available Monday to Friday from 8.30am-5pm.

It will be run by two registered nurses, and a GP when required. General health, mental health and sexual health will be covered, however students who have COVID-19 health-related questions should call Healthline on the dedicated COVID-19 number 0800 358 5453.

Diabetes Support

Support for people with diabetes will also be available from a specialist diabetes nurse from Thursday 26 March on 0800 920 033 and will be available Monday to Friday from 8.30am-4.30pm. Again, anyone with COVID-19 health-related questions should call Healthline on the dedicated COVID-19 number 0800 358 5453.

Primary Mental Health Services

Primary mental health support groups are suspended until after the Alert Level 4 is lifted. However phone and video support (where possible) will continue to be available to existing primary mental healthcare patients.

Flu Vaccination

The WBOP PHO’s Health and Wellness Centre in First Avenue West will close on Wednesday 25 March but nurses who usually work out of the centre will be assisting doctors’ surgeries across the Western Bay of Plenty to give flu vaccines to patients.

Priority groups - people over 65, pregnant women, people with chronic conditions, and young children with a history of respiratory illness - are currently being vaccinated, followed by eligible children aged between 6 and 35 months of age from 1 April, and others from 13 April.

General Practice Services

The WBOP PHO’s 31 general practices from Katikati to Whakatāne are also providing essential medical services during COVID-19 Alert Level 4, with GPs consulting patients by phone, email and video where possible to help reduce the spread of the virus.

People who are unwell and require face-to-face GP appointments will get them, but non-urgent appointments will be done remotely or, in some cases, deferred.

Flu vaccinations will continue to be available but delivered in a way that will avoid unnecessary interaction between patients.

Iwi-led Health Services

Ngāi te Rangi and Ngāti Ranginui are continuing to support their communities with essential health services and support, including home-based support for people with high needs. Health promotion, education, and counselling services are continuing online or by phone. Flu vaccination for kaumatua is under way, including on Motiti and Matakana Islands.

Outreach Immunisation Services

Outreach immunisation services will continue for those families who are unable to get into their general practice to meet childhood immunisation milestones.

COVID-19 Test Results

The PHO will also be responsible for contacting people in the region who have been tested for COVID-19 to inform them of their results. The PHO asks that people be patient and wait for a call rather than call their general practice.

Rheumatic Fever Services

School-based throat-swabbing for rheumatic fever will not continue during COVID-19 Alert Level 4 while schools are closed. Parents and caregivers with concerns about children’s sore throats should contact their general practice in the meantime.

WBOP PHO chief executive Lindsey Webber says people should be assured that essential primary healthcare will continue.

“Don’t hesitate to contact your GP or phone our 0800 numbers for help. If you want a flu vaccination, we will make sure you get one. We are here to help you in any way we can.

“We understand that the situation will be stressful for many so we also recommend using the Ministry of Health’s free call or text service, 1737, if you feel anxious and need someone to talk to.”

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