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Clinic cares for the rural community

Pink and purple skies covered the opening ceremony for Pirinoa Medical Clinic at Pirinoa School. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

A new medical clinic has opened in Pirinoa to support South Wairarapa’s rural residents “devoid” of medical services.

The clinic, which officially opened on Saturday, has been running for about six weeks, with a steady increase in patients as word spread.

Dr Harasha Dias from Pae Tu Mokai Featherston Medical, who helped shape the new clinic, said the project was largely community-led.

He said at the opening that Mike Kawana had recalled attending Pirinoa School and talked about times when pupils would refer to the building as “the murder house”.

Now, the building has been kitted out to become a medical centre, with nurse practitioner Corina Ngatai visiting every Thursday to see patients.

Dias said Te Hauora Runanga O Wairarapa was on site all other days and provided a wrap-around service for the community that was “absolutely devoid of those services”.

“I personally believe that rural communities don’t get the resources that large towns and cities get. South Wairarapa is a classic example of that.”

He said the clinic aimed to change the community’s access to health services.

“I don’t think it’s anyone’s intention that people don’t get those resources, but I think we do owe it to rural communities to provide those resources.”

Dias said people in rural communities suffered enormously with things that people living in cities took for granted.

He said people living in rural communities often faced a mix of medical issues and social issues without help from medical professionals.

“The two go hand-in-hand but are quite separate.”

The building kitted out to become a medical centre.

Dias said it was likely that rural people had higher rates of respiratory illnesses, including asthma.

“A lot of these people who live out in rural communities and they don’t have as good housing.

“You end up with a cold and damp house, probably with a family that doesn’t earn as much and without the ability to heat it as well.”

He said that the housing situation could easily lead to children suffering from respiratory illnesses that weren’t treated as easily because of the cost of medical care and distance from a medical practice.

Additionally, Dias said rural people could be left unsupported with drug and alcohol addictions.

“It’s all just so much harder for people to get help.”

Dias and his team have been on a mission to change healthcare access problems, starting with one nurse practitioner and a team from Te Hauora Runanga O Wairarapa.

He said Te Hauora Runanga O Wairarapa staff travelled from Masterton four days a week, a distance many other providers wouldn’t tackle.

“There aren’t that many organisations that go all the way down to the south; we’re incredibly appreciative of them.”

Dias said the clinic was just one idea in the battle to change the rural healthcare story.

“We could never do it on our own.”

Grace Prior
Grace Prior
Grace Prior is a senior reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with a keen interest in environmental issues. Grace is the paper’s health reporter and regularly covers the rural sector, weather, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and coastal stories.

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