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Mobile dental clinics moving along schedule

Waikato District Health Board’s nine new mobile dental clinics will take 27,000 hours to build.

It is no mean feat but Hamilton manufacturer Action Motor Bodies is up to the task as Health Waikato chief operating officer Jan Adams and Community Dental Service manager Diane Pevreal saw when they visited their workshop on Friday (4 March) and met the team behind the work.

The company will manufacture 108 mobile dental clinics at its Te Rapa workshop by the end of 2012 for DHBs throughout the country as part of the major revamp of community and school dental services.

Nine of the clinics are for Waikato, with two already on the road and a third blessed yesterday for the eastern Coromandel area.

Mrs Adams said it was an interesting visit, a great opportunity to learn how the clinics are built and see how staff are working to achieve their big task.

“It was great to see the factory and the build process and I was really interested in the work they are doing with all staff actively involved in the process.

“I think some of their approaches around staff engagement in particular would be very good for us to look at as we embark on the catalyst (savings) programme across the DHB.”

The mobile clinics are part of an $11 million overhaul for the dental service that will bring the total number of mobile clinics to 15, and see six new fixed clinics being built around the region as well as refurbishment of an existing clinic and ward at Tokoroa Hospital.

There are two types of mobile clinics, assessment or treatment, and two sizes, one and two chair.

Some are towed, some are driveable but each purpose built mobile clinic takes a month to build which is equivalent to 3000 working hours by a range of staff including welders, cabinet makers and coach builders.

Action Motor Bodies have a good reputation for quality workmanship with ambulances, holiday homes, display vans and quite recently, a mobile directors unit for Peter Jackson.

Mrs Pevreal said the new mobile clinics make the service more mobile, allowing the service to visit and treat children most in need.

“Prevention education will be a strong focus in the new clinics, with parents encouraged to attend appointments and an emphasis on children being taught how to manage their own oral health on a daily basis.”

Mrs Pevreal said staff will also take on a new way of working in the new clinics, with the implementation of ‘lean thinking principles’ that aim to maximise efficiencies and minimise waste.

“Action Motor Bodies have offered to help setup the mobile clinics with this in mind.

“This will include ensuring all equipment and products will have a designated place so that there is a reduction in time spent trying to find things and we’ll also be establishing regular morning meetings for staff to focus on a particular aspect of services within their facility.

“This will allow staff to manage their own work environment so we can maximise productivity and staff satisfaction in a tight budgetary environment,” Mrs Pevreal said.

ENDS

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Background information
The DHB announced a major overhaul to its Community Dental Service in 2009 after it found that all of the 78 school-owned dental clinics it staffed needed replacing or refurbishment to comply with new legislation.

New fixed clinics will be located at:

  • Cambridge Middle School, work to start April
  • Morrinsville Primary School, work to start late March
  • Peachgrove Intermediate, work to start July
  • Firth Primary School, Matamata – work is underway, to be complete mid-April
  • Frankton Primary School, work is underway, to be complete in May
  • Fairfield Intermediate, work to start April

Refurbishment work at Crawshaw School (Hamilton) will allow treatment to continue in their school-owned clinic, and a Tokoroa Hospital ward will be an eighth clinic.

All fixed and mobile clinics will be complete by the end of the year.

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