Iwi and DHB a “power couple” for health services

Ngāti Ranginui chief executive office Mel Tata and BOPDHB chief medical officer of health Dr Luke Bradford are excited by the opening of Rangiora. Photo: Alisha Evans/SunLive.

A new health hub in Tauranga will deliver accessible immunisation services, information and social services.

This is what Ngāti Ranginui chief executive office Mel Tata told Local  Democracy Reporting when the hub, Rangiora, opened this week.

The immunisation hub, a partnership between Ngāti Ranginui Iwi  and the Bay of Plenty District Health Board, opened at Fraser Cove Shopping Centre in Tauranga on Wednesday.

“Location is hugely important. We're not here by default,” she says.

“We've chosen to be at a location of a mall site so that we can be a part of everybody's day to day.

“The Warehouse, Countdown, Rangiora,” laughed Tata.

“Rangiora is a whānau-centred, community hub improving health access for all communities. It’s about mana motuhake, ensuring whānau exercise health ownership.”

The walk in immunisation clinic is open from 9am to 6pm seven days a week, and will be open most public holidays.

Covid-19 vaccinations and boosters are available, as well as flu shots and measles, mumps and rubella vaccinations.

The full range of childhood vaccinations will be available at Rangiora from next month.

BOPDHB chief medical officer of health Dr Luke Bradford says child immunisation rates are “terrible” in the Bay of Plenty.

He says the target for child immunisation is 95 per cent vaccinated, in the Bay of Plenty this is as low as 70 per cent for Māori.

“The BOP’s always been one of the lowest in the country,” says Bradford.

“We just have a group of people who don't feel comfortable with vaccinations, but Covid has really worsened the situation.

“There is some fatigue around talking about immunisation and some distrust because of that fake news and misinformation that got spread around about the vaccination.

“As a result, we've seen a drop across the board, but with particular effect on our Māori whanau.”

Bradford says 70 per cent vaccination rates were “just not enough to protect the community when these diseases do re-emerge”.

At 95 per cent vaccinated there is protection against some “really nasty diseases”, like whooping cough and measles, he says.

Children from Merivale School performed waiata at the Rangiora opening ceremony. Photo: Alisha Evans/SunLive.

The chief medical officer says the current system of booking an appointment at a GP for children’s immunisation “doesn’t work for everybody”.

“The idea here is that you'll be able to drop in,” says Bradford.

“People having to take time off work to take their children for vaccinations is going to stop.”

He says there are better outcomes for Māori when services are delivered by their people.

“The hope is that it [Rangiora] becomes a real partnership space for health.”

The goal is to have a mix of iwi services, social services health prevention and education as well as health clinics, such as a diabetes clinics in future, says Bradford.

“We can do things differently. It doesn't have to be centrally delivered now, it's about empowering iwi to deliver the services their people want, where they want them.”

Tata says there has “been a gap” for a space like Rangiora.

“What we learned through Covid-19 was the importance of friendly, known faces to help with the decision to vaccinate. Rangiora is a space for people to kōrero with our team and feel empowered with their health decisions,” explains Tata.

“The hope for this space is to see continuity of care,” she says.

“While we have our whanau here we want to link them into continuity of care, improve their relationship with the health system and whatever they determine is their hauora pathway.”

The iwi bring connection to mental health services, counselling, drug, alcohol and addiction services and the DHB brings clinical capacity, says Tata.

“It's a great marriage. A power couple”

Rangiora Health Hub is in the Fraser Cove Shopping Centre, 219-261 Fraser Street, Tauranga.

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.

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