Western Bay of Plenty youth will have access to free health advice over the school holidays with an extension of the Western Bay of Plenty Primary Health Organisation’s school health services.
GPs and nurses will be on hand to offer free advice at the PHO’s Health and Wellness Services centre in First Avenue, the Arataki Community Centre opposite Bayfair and the Merivale Community Centre from December 17 until the end of January.
The WBOP PHO offers one of the most extensive free school health services in the country for 13 to 18-year-olds with health clinics at nine of the region’s secondary schools and alternative education centres.
Nurses work at each school for up to 30 hours each week and GPs are available for up to two hours.
In 2018 there has been 185 student visits per week across the nine schools with 7392 interventions, including 870 for mental health.
The service is particularly successful with Maori students with one in three having contact with school health services compared to one in five non-Maori.
School health nurse Tricia Tyrrell says the service supports student learning by helping students to stay well. Extending the service over the school holidays will help fill the gap until school resumes next year.
“Often parents are unable to take time off work to take their child to a health professional so we thought we’d extend our services into the community to help alleviate that.
“And cost is prohibitive for some people as well.”
Students use the health service for a range of health issues, including wound care, asthma management, chest and throat infections, earache, sexual health and contraception.
“When you work with students over time you start to develop good relationships with them and you can help with advice on things like diet, exercise and smoking cessation,” says Tricia.
Some students just need someone to talk to, and school health services often refers to other agencies.
“We’ve got a good knowledge of the available resources in our area. We offer preventative care, rather than just being the ambulance of the bottom of the cliff,” says Tricia.
The school health services team will be available in the community, with a nurse from 1-4pm and a GP from 2-3pm, on the following dates:
• Health and Wellness Services, First Avenue, Tauranga: Monday December 17 and January 7, 14, 21 and 28
• Arataki Community Centre (opposite Bayfair): Tuesday December 18, January 8, 15, 22 and 29.
• Merivale Community Centre, 10 Kesteven Avenue, Parkvale: Wednesday December 19, January 9, 16, 23 and 30.