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Demand for mobile units at hospitals increasing


Christchurch – The demand for portable operating departments to ease hospital surgical strain is growing substantially, Mobile Health chief executive Mark Eager says.

Over the Christmas break, Mobile Health’s surgical bus unit was busy working in Auckland at the Counties District Health Board as an extra theatre helping them to get through their elective surgery lists, Eager says.

The national surgical bus, possibly the only one of its type in the world, is making significant changes to keep up with demands and with high technology.

“We have looked at cutting-edge new technologies with portable and modular healthcare facilities to help district health boards cope when they are under pressure and to assist in smaller towns and rural areas.

“This year is a fresh start for us as evidenced by the fresh look of the surgical bus which will continue travelling all over New Zealand to meet the needs.

“We are excited for Kiwis who need the service this year. Mobile Health will also be working with health organisations to bring another Health Hub to Fieldays 2018 at Mystery Creek.

“Our annual rural nurses meeting will be staged in May. This is a great opportunity for rural nurses to expand their knowledge and catch up with one another.

“Last year we had our first education session via video conferencing with nurses on the Chatham Islands. We will continue to look at remote locations to bring to help our rural health development.”

New Zealand’s mobile surgical bus, which provides low risk day surgery in rural communities that don’t have local access to full operating theatres, marked its 15-year anniversary last year after more than 21,300 operations in 24 towns.

An independent health consultants report has found up to 300 Kiwi patients annually would probably miss out on surgery if was not for the mobile surgical unit, with its state-of-the-art surgical operating theatre.

The bus receives $4 million annually from the Ministry of Health and Mobile Health is looking forward to signing an extension to its contract with the ministry.

The bus runs on a five-week rotation system around New Zealand, carrying out operations at Kaikohe, Dargaville, Warkworth, Pukekohe, Te Puia, Wairoa, Taumarunui, Waipukurau, Taihape, Hawera, Levin, Dannevirke, Kapiti, Featherston, Takaka, Motueka, Buller, Waikari, Rangiora, Oamaru, Clyde, Queenstown, Balclutha and Gore.

“We are probably the only mobile surgical bus in the world. There are others that are on the road for months at a time. There is one container truck that looks like a food delivery truck in Ecuador which works for a few months a year,” Eager says.

“But ours it unique in the way that we operate. It is an amazing concept and a great way of sharing an expensive resource. What we do saves $2 million in each town on capital costs, if they had to build a similar operating facility from scratch.”

For further information contact Mobile Health chief executive Mark Eager on 027 2230066 or Make Lemonade editor-in-chief Kip Brook on 0275 030188.

Photo: Mobile Health’s Mark Eager and the revamped surgical bus

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