Asthma Rotorua has been given a very special gift to help patients and their families in the region, ahead of its open day on Wednesday.
The group has been donated a new Holden Spark, proudly sponsored by BayTrust, the Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust and The Lion Foundation, to support those in Rotorua, Taupo and Turangi living with Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
Local Asthma Nurse Educator Renee Goldbert said the car would be very useful as she traveled around the Lakes district to supports patients with respiratory illnesses and their families.
And the car is the perfect gift to celebrate World COPD Day on Wednesday.
To acknowledge the day, Asthma Rotorua is inviting anyone living with COPD as well as their family and friends to an open day to talk about the new COPD medications, COPD self-management and controlling breathlessness.
Ms Goldbert said the services of Asthma Rotorua were free and she encouraged everyone to take the opportunity to attend the open day, and see what the service was all about.
"We are here to give support and advice to clients and their family, so come and join us.
Keryn, from the 'Huffers, Puffers and Wheezers' COPD group will be here, and anyone who wants to join us for a pre-Christmas lunch at the Citizens' club is welcome - they have a two course meal for $12."
She said in the 2015/16 year at Lakes DHB, there were 348 hospitalisations due to asthma. Of these, 224 or 64 per cent were Maori. 182 cases of these were for children aged 0-4. In this age group, 120 or 66 per cent were Maori.
COPD is characterised by chronic airflow limitation caused by other conditions such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema. In 2015 there was estimated to be over 28,000 people in New Zealand living with severe COPD and the condition is often undiagnosed with at least 200,000 or 15 per cent of the adult population affected.
Ms Goldbert said the disease can take up to 20 years to develop.
"Raising awareness of COPD is important. Many people think their early symptoms of exercise related breathlessness (easily getting puffed) is just getting older, when in fact it may be a sign that they have COPD. Early detection of COPD enables treatment to be started promptly and slow down lung deterioration."
What: Open day for people with COPD and their family and friends
Why: Education for people with COPD
Where: Asthma Rotorua office, Rotorua Community Health Hub, 1172 Haupapa St (there is an elevator available).
The Huffers, Puffers and Wheezers is a group started by people living with COPD in the Rotorua community. They meet monthly at a cafe in the Rotorua area and like to rotate meeting points to cater for group members who live in each suburb. You can join by contacting Renee at Asthma Rotorua: (07) 347 1012.