Artists impressions of the new Te Kuiti Medical Centre reception
Te Kuiti Medical Centre will celebrate its official opening on 17 March, which will strengthen relationships between the community and hospital care.
For the past 20 years the medical centre, opposite Te Kuiti Hospital’s emergency department, supported inpatients and out-of-hours services to people in the north King Country. However in September last year the Waikato District Health Board contributed $850,000 to the centre for a refurbishment to ensure it meets earthquake standards.
Recently retired Te Kuiti Hospital service manager, Thia Priestly said it was Waikato DHB clinician and now board member Dr Clyde Wade who initiated the venture in 1993 and acknowledged his vision of what the services would look like today.
The general practice service has supported the hospital’s inpatient and out of hours services to people in the north King Country.
Thia Priestly said the centre has set a bench mark in primary and secondary care integration for New Zealand.
“It was about a continuation of services; it has sustained our clinical services,” she said.
The idea to form a medical centre was born out of a need to attract general practitioners to the area on a permanent basis. Almost 20 years on it remains the largest GP employer in town with seven permanent doctors and one locum.
Dr Keith Buswell, a GP for the medical centre, has been a driving force behind its success. He said the centre’s integration with the hospital has meant it is capable of attracting after-hours locums, which normal GP practices struggle to do.
In addition to that a fellowship in rural medicine was established to meet the needs of young doctors who wanted a career in rural hospitals. For the past 15 years the medical centre and hospital have hosted fourth year medical students and trainee interns.
It makes sense to give medical students an opportunity to experience the variety and challenges of rural practice, said Buswell.
“It is hoped that participants in the programme will find work in a variety of rural locations throughout the country, including Te Kuiti.”
The training gives students a unique opportunity to follow patients from primary care settings, into secondary and back into community.
The integration has also provided an opportunity to grow and develop nurses. Buswell said there is real benefit in nurses who work in both the medical center and hospital.
“[It is] the evolution of the rural general nurse: the nurse who is looking after accident victims in Emergency Department but can also attend to them at the scene.”