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Virtual Clinic Empowers the Whanganui Community during Winter Illnesses

Choose well for yourself and your whānau this winter, be prepared and stay on top of all the little things that keep us well.

  • Check you and your whānau are all up to date with vaccinations.

  • Be mindful of winter bug hygiene (wearing masks, handwashing, staying away from others when you are unwell)

  • Prepare a winter wellness kete (RATs, masks, prescription medicines, tissues, hand sanitiser, etc)

  • Make a whānau wellness plan (childcare if you are unwell, contacting mahi when you are unwell, checking in on kaumatua or whānau living alone, phone list of important numbers Healthline, GP, childcare, mahi, MSD, etc).

  • Know where to find good wellness information for the whole whānau.

Sometimes however, those winter ills and chills cannot be cared for at home and whānau need to access healthcare, which in the winter can be challenging when services are often stretched. The new winter virtual clinic, an innovative way for people to access medical care is providing an alternative option for whānau suffering from common winter respiratory illnesses, i.e., colds, flu and COVID-19.

The virtual clinic provides greater convenience, timely care, and better access to medical and other wrap around services for whānau, whilst strengthening the overall healthcare network by working alongside general practice and supporting them through the winter period.

Whānau can access the virtual clinic by phoning 0800 111 211 anytime between 10am and 5pm, Monday to Sunday. The service is available to all whānau suffering winter illnesses right across the Whanganui rohe, which includes the rural regions Bulls, Marton, Taihape, Waiouru, Ohakune and Raetihi.

The virtual clinic has opened a doorway for whānau to access quality healthcare from the comfort of their own home, without the need to venture out into the cold or wait in crowded waiting rooms. The service is managed by the team at Whanganui Accident and Medical (WAM) and has provided an opportunity for better management of whānau need. Service Manager Mon White has worked diligently with her team to provide a service that connects whānau to healthcare professionals through phone consultations. Whānau can receive medical advice, prescriptions, and even arrange face-to-face appointments at WAM for later in the day, if required. “Last year we had the drive thru Mauri Ora Clinic which worked really well for the community, so we’re really optimistic that a Virtual Clinic will have the same results, if not better,” says Mon.

“We still encourage all those enrolled with a general practice to contact their GP first (preferably first thing in the morning), as many of our general practice teams have same day appointments available for whānau who are unwell and need to see someone that day. If whānau can get into their own GP first, that’s the best option because they already know that person’s medical history, however if there’s no appointments available getting whānau well is our highest priority, so the virtual clinic is a great option – we don’t turn anyone away,” says Mon. “Plus a Virtual Clinic helps to keep bugs out of our waiting room and prevent the spread of further illness.”

The clinic opened on the 6th of June and since then feedback has been positive from those using the service and the staff involved in running the clinic. The hours have been extended, as utilisation has grown and the clinic has proven to support the following outcomes.

  1. Increase accessibility for whānau.

  2. Reduce waiting times.

  3. Be a good use of clinical resource.

  4. Provide opportunities for preventative care, education and wrap around support.

  5. Provide cost savings.

By harnessing technology and fostering collaboration between general practices, the Whanganui Rohe can enjoy convenient and efficient healthcare support, especially during the winter season. This transformative approach to healthcare will have a profound positive impact on the community's overall well-being and paves the way for a future where quality healthcare is more readily accessible and appropriately delivered for all.

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