The under pressure health system exposed by Covid-19 has opened the door for highly qualified nurses to carry out vaccinations, provide medicines and treat asthma patients and strep throat – once the sole domain of senior clinicians and GPs.
But with Covid-19 cases decreasing and winter fast approaching, stringent health and medical regulations have been relaxed – allowing Waipareira frontline nurses to deliver a far greater role in the community, and act as a one stop health shop.
Waipareira CEO John Tamihere said the relaxation rules were much needed and long overdue. He said this small change will give Māori health care workers the ability to care and look after their own communities.
“Covid-19 has exposed major bottle necks and deficiencies in our health system,” Tamihere said.
“Giving nurses more delegation will benefit poorer communities and create more connectivity for Maori caught in a health system they did not fully engage with.”
Dr Kevinit Sandhu With Members Of The Waipareira Medical Team
Dr Kevinit Sandhu, head of the Waipareira drive through Covid-19 Clinic, said anyone suffering serious respiratory issues must still go to their GP.
But patients with symptoms such as a runny nose, cough, sore throat or chest infection could still come for a free COVID test.
“If patients are unwell with breathing issues or a temperature, they need to contact their GP who can refer them to us if they are unable to get seen,” Dr Sandhu said.
Along with free Covid-19 testing for all west Aucklanders, Waipareira will also offer flu jabs to eligible people. That eligibility criteria includes pregnant women (any trimester), people 65 and over, under 65s with conditions, such as chronic heart disease, chronic liver, disease, diabetes, cancer, asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
Children aged 4 who have been hospitalised for respiratory illness or have a history of significant respiratory illness, including children under 5 years who were hospitalised with measles can also receive treatment.
Nursing staff will also administer antibiotics to patients who have a sore throat and at risk of rheumatic fever.
Waipareira CEO John Tamihere and Ngaire Harris
Ngaire Harris – clinical lead of the Whanau House Covid-19 vaccination services, and a long time nurse, said nurses should be utilised more.
“Our nursing staff know our whanau, and our whanau have a real trust in them,” she said.
Tamihere said this was just a small step towards a health system that must devolve and starting to break free from a choke hold from a system developed 100 years ago.
“I would also like to see pharmacists given wider delegations to prescribe certain medicines over the counter,” Tamihere said.
“GPs would then be better utilised for their medical skills and knowledge.”
See our FAQs for useful COVID-19 information and how Whānau Ora is supporting whānau and vulnerable communities.
For health advice, call the dedicated Healthline free on 0800 358 5453
If you or your whānau need financial support, contact Work and Income on 0800 559 009 or www.workandincome.govt.nz
If you need support getting help contact your local Whānau Ora partner: www.whanauora.nz/partners
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For those kaimahi in the health and social work space, and other like-minded organisations, WOCA will be updating its online resources with the latest reports to help inform COVID-19 responses and strategies. Info on personal protective equipment can be found on the Ministry of Health website.
Join Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency (WOCA) live on Facebook for a kōrero across the Whānau Ora movement.
Every Thursday at 8PM, WOCA CEO John Tamihere will be talking with Whānau Ora Collectives about their mahi and the unique approaches they are taking to best support whānau during COVID-19 and beyond.
To kick off this series, WOCA will kōrero with Te Tai Tokerau on 30th April.
Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency is on track to meet its target and deliver supplies for a total of 90,000 hygiene packs to Whānau Ora distribution centers up and down the North Island by the end of April.
It has been a massive job and Whānau Ora workforce have stepped up to the challenge and responded quickly.
Over ANZAC Day weekend, many partners were still quietly working away, including Te Roopu Awhina Ki Porirua who completed packing a further 2900 hygiene packs on behalf of their collective in Wellington.
Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency is reminding whānau who have COVID-19 symptoms, or believe they have come into contact with someone with the virus, to go their local COVID-19 testing centre.
Anyone who intends visiting a testing centre but is uncertain whether they meet the criteria, can seek advice from Healthline (0800 358 5453) or their GP.
For whānau in Tāmaki Makaurau who need a test, Whānau Ora partner Te Whānau O Waipareira has set up a drive-in assessment centre at Whānau Centre, Henderson.
While the testing centre will be closed on Anzac Day - Saturday, 25th April - it will continue with its usual opening hours (8am-4pm) over the rest of the long weekend.
Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency CEO John Tamihere has spoken with Dr Kevin Sandhu, Clinical Director for Waipareira Māori COVID Testing Centre, on testing and progress.
Being vigilant in testing is increasingly important as we head into winter.
Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency acknowledges the innovative and dedicated mahi of Whānau Ora partners across the motu.
Whānau Ora leadership across Te Ika A Maui is at the epicenter of our COVID-19 response. Rohe by rohe they update the roll-out of support deep into our communities.
"This is an incredible forum for the exchange of innovative ideas as to how vulnerable communities are moving to defend themselves from COVID-19 this winter.
Words like inspiration and sacrifice tend to pale into insignificance when mixing, walking and talking with this leadership group.
It is a privilege and an honor to be part of this, our Whānau Ora Movement"
- John Tamihere, CEO Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency
A further 30,000 Whānau Ora Hygiene Packs have been delivered around the motu this week, as Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency works to achieve its goal of delivering 120,000 packs to Whānau Ora partners by the end of April.
Whānau Ora partners are using their knowledge of local communities to target those whānau most in need when distributing the packs in their rohe.
Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency acknowledges Snell for its committed mahi over the Easter weekend, meaning that 487 pallets of hygiene products could be delivered on Tuesday to depots around the North Island.
The supplies for the next 20,000 Whānau Ora Hygiene Packs have arrived for packing and distribution by our Whānau Ora partners this week.
Every week until the end of April, a further 30,000 packs will be delivered across the North Island.
"We hope to be able to keep these deliveries going and ensure that our most vulnerable whānau are protected before winter comes and COVID-19 really hits," said CEO John Tamihere.
Our Whānau Ora services and organisations are deemed as ‘Essential Services’ during the COVID-19 Level 4 Alert period for New Zealand.
Whānau Ora and Māori Health providers will redeploy all of its resources to support a nationally coordinated Public Health effort, to support whānau during these unprecedented times.
Activities by the Whānau Ora workforce include whānau wellbeing checks and the distribution of Whānau Ora Hygiene Packs.
Merepeka Raukawa-Tait says the just released targeted financial package for Māori is a good start and looks forward to the government releasing more funding and support to vulnerable communities.
Today the government announced a range of initiatives for Māori – including $15 million to the 3 Commissioning Agencies to inject mechanisms and care packages directly into the poorest communities.
“I tautoko our Māori Ministers who have come together to acknowledge and put together a package for Māori,” Raukawa-Tait, chair of the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency, said.
She said new funding will be targeted by accredited Whānau Ora providers to whānau within their communities. The collective is the only support network – including government agencies – who have the ability to provide immediate support and relief for whānau.
Raukawa-Tait said WOCA was left to initiate hygiene and sanitation packs for families, where cleaning products were considered a luxury. The first 10,000 will be dispatched this week with the remaining 20,000 distributed over the next fortnight.
“Our providers know their communities and whānau who will need these packs and they will receive them over the next few weeks,” Raukawa-Tait said.
She also acknowledged that Māori generally did not engage with the health system with many living in isolated rural communities.
The government will provide funding for Māori-led, Māori-specific vaccination programmes to address equity issues, including a targeted health promotion campaign and to support the workforce of Whānau Ora Commissioning Agencies to respond to the increase demand as a result of Covid-19.
“The health packages designed for clinics don’t serve the majority of our people,” Raukawa-Tait said.
“It is timely that we finally get funded to support initiatives by Māori to Māori for Māori.”
Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency (WOCA) has announced that it will redeploy Whānau Ora funding and resources to fight the spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus).
WOCA will use the funds to support whānau Māori, especially kaumātua and those most vulnerable to the virus.
“We are going to stand up against this virus together, because we know that our communities are more susceptible to these kinds of viruses than the general population. We owe it to whānau to create a for Māori, by Māori strategy to protect their health and wellbeing at this uncertain time,” said John Tamihere, CEO of WOCA.
“It is well-documented that Māori have higher rates of chronic diseases, including respiratory diseases, and this puts us at a higher risk of negative health outcomes from COVID-19, compounded by inequities and barriers in the healthcare system,” Mr Tamihere added.
Furthermore, with many whānau Māori living in areas with limited medical resources, there are fears among Whānau Ora providers that a COVID-19 outbreak will stretch resources.
“Hygiene is now extraordinarily important so, as part of our strategy, we are in the process of putting together hygiene kits for our whānau in financial difficulty. Through Whānau Ora partners, we have strong channels of distribution by dedicated navigators who know best the local communities and their needs,” Mr Tamihere said.
The kits will contain a month's supply of hygiene products for a whānau of up to five members, and will include hand sanitiser, rubber gloves and cleaning products. WOCA aims to send out 30,000 packs in the first wave, with 60,000 packs to be distributed at a later date.