It was a double celebration for the team at Kensington Health today. They marked their first anniversary at the new Kensington Health Hub alongside the first day of their collaborative COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic with Bush Road Medical Centre and Central Family Health Care.
Kensington Health Clinic director Nick Swain said as the other tenancy’s in the retail hub started filling up, they wondered what they could use the vacant space for going forward. When the opportunity for General Practice clinics to do COVID-19 vaccinations came up, they knew it wouldn’t work for them as an individual practice.
However, they discussed the concept of a combined clinic with the two other practices and realised together they would have a good population base to work through and the appropriate staffing levels to offer a clinic in Kensington.
“Between ourselves, Bush Road Medical Centre and Central Family Health Care, we have the oldest population base in Whangārei. This helps in targeting those in higher need, and around 20-22 percent of our clients are Māori, which gives us good economies of scale and volume to target for vaccinations – so we’re really stoked.”
Nick and Central Family Health Practice Manager Ruth Redfern said they had been working hard to pull everything together for today and were a bit nervous but looking forward to the challenge.
All three clinics offered their Māori and Pasifika patients, those with underlying health conditions, and anyone else over 50 years to book their vaccination first before opening it up to their other eligible patients.
“Our priority is to get through our combined enrolled population of 23,000 patients. Then we will look at opening it up to the wider because geographically this is the centre of Whangārei, and we’re doing it for the community,” said Nick.
Initially, the Clinic will run from Tuesday until Saturday and include after-hour clinics from 5pm-8pm.
Ruth said they could potentially vaccinate up to 4,200 people per week and run the Clinic seven days a week. Their only issue is staffing the clinics as most have to come from the practices and are already quite burnt out and often have to work on their days off. Staff include a range of nurses, authorised vaccinators, provisional vaccinators, pharmacist vaccinators and Jane Mander Residential Care nurses who offered to support the initiative.
The Ministry of Social Development has provided staff to fill some of the administrative roles. Some of whom, Nick said they had struck gold with.
He said their landlord, Northland Regional Council, had been very supportive, as have Whangārei Boys High School for providing the artwork.
“We are very fortunate in Northland that alongside Māori Health Providers general practice and pharmacy have embraced the vaccination rollout in Northland and we appreciate the support greatly,” offered Jeanette Wedding, senior responsible officer for the Northland COVID-19 vaccination programme.
After blessing the site yesterday Kaumātua Albert Sadler was one of the 180 people booked in today for their first dose.
At 72, Albert said for the elderly (over 65 years), having the vaccination is a must, “If you recall earlier when COVID-19 first hit us, most of those who were affected were from rest homes. So, I thought if it affects our elderly when the opportunity comes along, I’ll go and get my jab. And I encourage everyone else to book in and get it done as well.”
Image: Kaumātua Albert Sadler