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Busy medical centre moves to larger location

A busy medical clinic is on the move, citing high patient numbers and demand for services as the reason for the shift.

First Health and Wellness Centre first opened in 2020 and has seen such an influx of patients over the past three years that founder and clinical services manager Trish Wilkinson said they need more space.

The move isn’t far, just over 100 metres down the road to the building currently called the Lansdowne Business Centre.

“There’s more room for us to work with [mental health service] Te Hauora, councillors and our massage therapist,” said Wilkinson.

“And the carpark will really take the pressure off on-street parking.”

The facility will be renamed the Landsdowne Health Hub, and Wilkinson said there would be other services offered.

“At the moment, we can only see one person at a time,” said Wilkinson.

“With the new place, we’ll have three extra rooms and can expand staffing to keep up with the number of people needing to be seen.”

Wilkinson said many of the people who come in for appointments have no other options due to other local clinics in Wairarapa not taking on new patients.

According to First Health records, in May 2021 there were 31 patients seen, with 12 people recording a GP from outside Wairarapa.

This figure shot up to 74 patients seen in May last year and 43 of these people were not registered with a local clinic.

Continuing this trajectory, 109 people visited First Health in May this year, with 43 patients – nearly half – not registered with local clinics.

The Times-Age has been following this GP shortage, reporting only last week the General Practice Owners Association of Aotearoa [GenPro] chair Dr Tim Malloy describing the nation’s primary care service as at a “critical crossroads”.

As of June 23, according to Tu Ora Compass Health, three out of seven medical practices in Wairarapa are currently taking new patients.

While Featherston, Greytown and Carterton are reportedly taking on new patients, Wilkinson said this is limited to people who live within the vicinity of each clinic.

“We see everybody that everybody else can’t see,” said Wilkinson.

“If you’re moving here and haven’t got a doctor in the area, because nobody’s taking new patients, then you come to us.”

Out of the 43 people who visited the clinic and weren’t registered with a local GP, 33 were recorded as not being registered with any medical clinic.

“Helping with external pressures”.

Wilkinson said they will begin the move this week, and plan to be operating from the new premise on July 3.

Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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