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New docs for hospital

Emily Norman

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Patients can expect to see new faces at the Wairarapa Hospital, with five new doctors hired after longstanding vacancies.

For several months, the Wairarapa District Health Board has been on the lookout “far and wide” for specialist doctors to fill vacancies at the hospital

They have now welcomed in five doctors since the new year who will be working in the areas of Orthopaedics, Psychiatrics, Anaesthetics, and the Emergency Department.

Wairarapa DHB’s Chief Medical Officer Tom Gibson said the new doctors, who were permanently filling vacancies, would have a positive impact on the hospital and Wairarapa patients.

“It’s very important for the hospital that we have a robust medical force,” he said.

“Small hospitals do find it difficult to recruit specialties so we’ve been putting in a lot of work over the last year really, looking at our vacancies and endeavouring to fill them.

“We’ve spread that search far and wide and have ended up with two kiwis, two Americans and a South African which is great.”

Dr Gibson said the DHB had previously been reliant on locums to manage the workload resulted from the vacancies.

“The trouble is if you don’t have a regular workforce, you’re reliant on locums all the time,” he said.

“They come and go and they do a great job, but it’s not the same as having your own staff who are committed to the hospital and community.

“This is a big plus for Masterton and Wairarapa.”

Two of the new doctors are a husband and wife team from the United States, Jeff Holman, working in Orthopaedics, and Hilda Holman, ED (pictured).

Dr Jeff Holman said they had come from a town in South Carolina, near Charleston, where they had both been working at a hospital for about 20 years.

“This literally is like the town we left but it’s in New Zealand,” he said, though he admitted it had taken some adjustment to learn to drive on the left side of the road.

“Being in the same town for 20 years it was a little repetitive,” he said.

“The opportunity to move out here and be challenged by something new and different is good – it gets you back on you’re A-game.”

Dr Hilda Holman was happy to call Masterton home and was excited to be working in a dynamic team in the ED, an area she chose to specialise in because it was “more exciting” and meant she wouldn’t be confined to an office.

New doctors joining the Holman duo are: Willem Odendaal (Anaesthetics, South Africa); Nic Pascoe (Psychiatrics, Christchurch); and David O’Byrne (Wellington, ED).

In addition, another new doctor, Prieur du Plessis, started working in Orthopaedics in December.


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Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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