Rural health delivery continues to challenge planners

Venkat Raman – 
venkat@indiannewslink.co.nz

Rural health delivery- Gore Health Web

While New Zealand’s public health system is on a par with the best in the world, service delivery in rural areas continues to be a challenge, with the private sector playing a significant role in keeping people healthy.

Accessibility, paucity of financial resources and availability of specialist care compound the problem and the increasing incidence of deadly diseases paint a scary picture of the rural health scene.

Common diseases

Rural health delivery-Karl Metzler Web“Rural New Zealand is not immune to diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases. In fact, their incidence is very high,” Karl Metzler, Chief Executive of Gore Health Limited, a not-for-profit private initiative in South Island, said.

According to him, attracting qualified medical practitioners and medical staff to work in rural areas is a challenge in itself, although there has been some improvement in recent years.

“The government is actively encouraging new migrants to settle in rural areas partly to reduce congestion in major cities like Auckland and Wellington and partly to keep the rural economy functional. However, provision of primary and secondary healthcare is the most important pre-requisite in developmental planning,” Mr Metzler told Indian Newslink during an interview in Auckland recently.

Indians on the rise

“There has been a significant rise in the number of Indian, Filipino and other Asian communities in our catchment area. The Health Ministry should now address issues relating to better and faster service delivery. It is a largely accepted fact that rural health in New Zealand suffers from inequity of services and needs quick and sound treatment,” Mr Metzler said.

Gore Health Limited owns and operates the Gore Hospital, a 20-bed facility that provides an integrated range of services to the Eastern Southland community and surrounding areas since its opening in May 1999 (after the closure of Seddon Memorial Hospital).

Rural health delivery- Gore Hospital Web

He is justifiably proud of his Hospital, which pioneered in the appointment of a Physician Assistant, “a qualified medical professional, who is more than a nurse but less than a medical doctor.”

The Services

Gore Hospital provides inpatient and 24-hour Emergency Department Services, Maternity Services, a GP Practice, Dental Practice and Allied and Community Health Services. Located at Gore, 65 km northeast of Invercargill, it caters to about 21,000 people in the region.

“We are an innovative company, always looking to improve and expand on the services we provide to our community. Our base funding (60%) comes from the Southern District Health Board and we work with them to develop a funding contract that specifies the range and volumes of public health services to deliver to our community.  We have private contracts that provide us with additional revenue and we are also grateful for the donations from our very supportive local community,” Mr Metzler said.

Gore is the service centre for a large rural farming area and close to the beautiful Southern Lakes area – the adventure capital of New Zealand.

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Photo Caption:

Karl Metzler

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