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This section contains media releases released a little while ago. Please note that due to the long time when some of these were released images have been removed and some links might no longer work.

April 1, 2013

Satisfaction from overcoming the challenges of remote rural locations

Bouncing along rural tracks trying to find houses with only a number as a reference can be challenging, but it's worth it to ensure that West Coast children get the protection they need, and that the Government's immunisation targets are met.

West Coast District Health Board immunisation outreach coordinator Betty Gilsenan
West Coast District Health Board immunisation outreach coordinator Betty Gilsenan

West Coast District Health Board (WCDHB) immunisation outreach coordinator Betty Gilsenan says she's often come home with her petrol gauge close to empty after taking a few wrong turns trying to find families in remote locations. But she's never run out of petrol.

It's nurses like Betty who contribute to the high percentage of children immunised on the Coast. The Government has a target to fully immunise 85 per cent of all eight-month-olds on time by July 2013. Children need to /should (but must implies compulsion) be immunised at six weeks of age, three months and five months.

Karyn Kelly, Director of Nursing and Midwifery says at the end of the last quarter, WCDHB reported 84 percent of all eligible children, and all Maori children, received their immunisations on time. All but one child apart from those children for whom immunisation was declined or there was an opt-off from the National Immunisation Register received their immunisation on time.

"We're so close to that Government target, we are almost certain we can achieve it within the timeframe," Ms Kelly says.

Betty, who started working on the West Coast in 1968, covers the area from Karamea to Haast.

"There are long distances between houses and with the remoteness, you can't just pop in to a store to ask for directions or into a neighbour's house to ask where someone is," she says.

Parts of Betty's geographic area are so remote, she has to negotiate with families to meet them at a relative's home or encourage them to attend an outpatient clinic to have their children immunised.

Immunisation is important in all places, but the West Coast has had multiple outbreaks of pertussis (whooping cough) in the last 18 months so it has been particularly crucial in this area. Betty remembers one recent journey to the home of parents with a new-born baby. They had just moved from the city and were in a very remote area.

"It was a gravel road with lots of pot holes and dips that were full of water and you can never be too sure how deep it is," Betty says. "Eventually, having gone the wrong way a few times, we found the family and the mother was so delighted that we came to her home to do the vaccination. It gave her peace of mind knowing that good care was being taken to deliver the vaccination in a safe manner.

All went well and we were able to go back so the baby could have all three of the necessary immunisations.

"Doing home visits means you can spend a little more time answering the parents' questions in a relaxed setting without them feeling there is a waiting room full of people," she says.

Immunisation outreach home visits also contribute to the WCDHB aligning with the Government's policy of better, sooner, more convenient healthcare.

The DHB continues to strongly encourage all parents to have their children immunised according to the national immunisation schedule, which also includes further immunisations at 15 months and 4 years old, but recognises that this is a decision to be made by individual families.


For more information

Bryan Jamieson
Community Liaison Officer
West Coast DHB
PO Box 387
Greymouth 7840
Phone (DDI): (03) 769-7665
Mobile: 027 245-9595

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