By Helen Martin
Kaipara Medical Centre’s extremely busy general medical practice in Commercial Rd, Helensville is at the centre of Helensville District Health Trust’s health campus. The complex incorporates a birthing centre, Labtests, WDHB services, a women and family centre and midwifery services. The medical centre works in cooperation with other local and rural medical centres to provide a 24/7 on call, out-of-hours service for the entire South Kaipara rural district.
By way of its unique business model, established in 2013, the community part-own the Kaipara Medical Centre, with shareholding partners including the Helensville District HealthTrust, Waitemata District Health Board and local long-serving doctors. This enables the medical centre to focus on and respond to the needs of Helensville and the surrounding South Kaipara rural community.
Releasing her annual report in September, Board Chair Dianne Kidd says KMC is travelling well. To meet increasing demand from the growing South Kaipara community plans are underway to improve customer service, including updating to smarter technology. The computer systems have been upgraded to provide faster and more efficient processing; a new phone system to increase line capacity is being reviewed, as is an online system that will allow patients to access their medical results and book appointments.
Other measures instigated to provide timely access to medical staff include a duty doctor each morning and a triage system with direct access to nursing staff. The centre is open until 7.30pm four nights of the week and is available on Saturday mornings for emergencies and urgent appointments.
Because the practice is designated Very Low Cost Access (VLA) the customer is charged only $17.50 per visit, an amount much lower than that paid by our city counterparts. This is to ensure that health care is available to all locals. Despite this, the KMC Board is currently owed some $30,000 in outstanding debts, accrued when customers fail to pay their accounts. The report says that this is a cause of deep concern to the Board as the KMC must be financially viable and sustainable to have a secure future.
Dianne Kidd notes that, in overcoming the difficulties of staffing a rural practice, KMC now employs 23 professional and committed staff, and acknowledges the work of Clinical Director Dr Phil Barter and his first class team of professional doctors, Selina Halewood and her wonderful team of nurses and John Issott and his excellent frontline staff. Appointed in March, Business Manager Richard Reid is prioritising the goals of improved customer service and financial viability.
By Helen Martin