MEDIA RELEASES

From Cook Islands ED to Whangarei

Switching from a five-bed emergency department to a 27 was an eye-opener for a Rarotongan doctor and registered nurse duo who recently spent two weeks working at Whangarei Hospital.

Dr Tekaai Nelesone and registered nurse Patricia Puna were selected as part of a health professionals exchange between Whangarei and the Cook Islands in which they have a unique Northland experience observing clinical services in the Whangarei ED and other clinical areas before spending time with the Hauora Hokianga team in Rawene.

The exchange is organised through The Rotary Club’s Bowden Trust with Northland DHB, in collaboration with Hauora Hokianga, to support the professional development of health professionals from the Cook Islands.

One difference the pair noted were the longer wait times in the emergency department.

“I notice here the waiting time due to the higher volume is longer than at home but once they are in ED the doctors and nurses work really hard to see people as soon as possible,” says Dr Nelesone.

“Obviously we have a much smaller ED so back home we try to keep our waiting down to one hour only,” adds Ms Puna.

Bonuses here included having all the resources needed and even the main power.

The bulk of the main emergencies in Rarotonga are cardiac arrest and vehicle accidents at their 80-bed Rarotongan hospital. Dr Nelesone says his experience in Whangarei’s ED has taught him other ways of managing cases.

During their stay in Whangarei, they have connected with the Northland Pacific Islands Charitable Trust, who hosted an afternoon with the Kaumātua, and were able to visit the Auckland Pacific Festival. In addition, they were attending Whangarei’s first Pasefika Fusion Festival.

Dr Nelesone, who originally comes from the islands of Tuvalu, was excited to be able to meet with family members in Whangarei and take part in their preparations for the festival.  Patricia also took part in hula dance practices and shared some of her knowledge with the dancers.

On the eve of spending two days at Rawene Hospital – which they believed would be more like home – before flying back to the islands, Dr Nelesone and Ms Puna say they enjoyed their time in Northland.

“Thank you Northland DHB for accepting us and letting us tag along. The powhiri was beautiful and an experience we’ve never had. To be selected to come here felt really special and we will be taking our experiences home with us.”

The Bowden Trust derived after Whangarei doctor and Rotarian Bernard Bowden was treated in the Cook Islands. He later bequeathed a fund to bring two Cook Islands health professionals to New Zealand each year.


Dr Tekaai Nelesone, ED nurse manager Margaret Dreadon and nurse Patricia Puna.



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