Rural practice declared finest in NZ

By hayley.gastmeier@age.co.nz -
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TheBest Rural General Practice Team 2016 award was presented to the Martinborough Health Services team at the annual National Rural Health conference held in Dunedin last week. PHOTO/FILE
TheBest Rural General Practice Team 2016 award was presented to the Martinborough Health Services team at the annual National Rural Health conference held in Dunedin last week. PHOTO/FILE

Martinborough Health Services has been nationally recognised as the best rural practice in New Zealand.

The practice was nominated by members of the community, who felt the team had gone above and beyond for their patients.

The award - Best Rural General Practice Team 2016 - was presented to the Martinborough Health Services team at the annual National Rural Health conference held in Dunedin last week.

Practice manager Pam Shackleton said to be recognised as the best rural practice in the country was a significant and "very special" feat.

"I have such a great team, it's so nice for them to be recognised and appreciated."

Mrs Shackleton said an initiative led by the centre to fundraise for ultrasound equipment had contributed to the achievement.

"We had realised quite a few patients were finding it frustrating and hard to get ultrasounds in Wairarapa with a six-week delay, so we did some fundraising with the community."

Purchasing the new equipment meant patients could receive the service closer to home and also gave the potential for early diagnosis.

Mrs Shackleton said practice owner and doctor Steve Philip had over 12 months gained a Certificate in Clinician-Performed Ultrasound, while still working fulltime at the practice.

She said Dr Philip had gone "beyond the call of duty" for the community - something they clearly recognised.

The practice also offered a wide range of services including regular visiting specialists, meaning Martinborough residents rarely had to leave town for healthcare reasons.

"We try to be a one-stop-shop really, it just makes it so much easier for people," Mrs Shackleton said. "The award definitely does depict the loyalty of the community, and being so close to not having a medical practice they really cherish it."

Martinborough had been without a doctor for more than a year with the position being filled by locums, when Dr Philip came to the rescue in 2005 and took over the practice, then on Jellicoe St.

The Jellicoe St building was condemned shortly after Dr Philip's arrival, Mrs Shackleton said.

The community rallied together to raise the bulk of $600,000, the shortfall being made up by private loans, for a new building on Oxford St, which opened in 2008.

The building is owned by the community under the Ruamahanga Health Trust.

Wairarapa District Health Board chief executive Adri Isbister said Martinborough Health Services' success was an example of how well primary care was working in the community.

"It's a fantastic achievement for the practice and its staff, but also the rural people it serves."

Martinborough Health Services has 2500 registered patients.

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