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Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki GP Martin Mikaere was honoured with the Peter Anyon Memorial Award at the The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners Conference for General Practice last month.
The Peter Anyon Memorial is given in the memory of Dr Peter Anyon, who is recognised as having made an important and valuable contribution to the vocational education of general practitioners.
Dr Mikaere made the decision to become a GP after taking some rare time out from his then 80-100 hour working weeks in his orthopaedic role at Whangarei Hospital.
He had taken his two young children to the beach and had so much fun with them, he went back the next day to do it all again. That night he turned to his wife and said he was going to become a GP.
“There’s no way I was going to live my life like this anymore,” he said.
“We had such a fantastic couple of days together and it started to dawn on me what was important.
“I had been working hard – and absolutely loving my job – but barely seeing my family.”
“People would say I was making a big sacrifice for my family. But the only thing I was sacrificing was my kids’ time with their dad.”
On his first day back at the hospital Martin resigned. “I went in and spoke to the boss. They were disappointed but understood my decision.
“There were people there that I really looked up to, idolised even, so it wasn’t easy to leave. But I knew it was the right thing to do, and that going back to my home community to start GP training would be a much better option for my wife and kids, and extremely fulfilling for me.”
Now in the third year of General Practice Education programme (GPEP) Martin is thoroughly enjoying work at the Te Korowai practice in Paeroa, which has about 1700 patients, 70% of whom are Māori.
He sees three particular challenges for the future of general practice, the first being the ‘tough sell’ of getting doctors into rural communities.
“In places like Thames and Paeroa, people complain that they never get to see the same GP. There just isn't the continuity of care because we don’t have enough GPs wanting to live here. I’m really not sure how we can solve this.”
Next on Martin’s list is the always-tricky issue faced by GPs around providing care to those close to them.
He understands the Medical Council’s position that this should be avoided in the vast majority of clinical situations but with about 100 whānau living locally, it isn’t straightforward.
He says: “On one hand there's encouragement to work in your own communities and help your people, while on the other there’s an expectation that GPs won’t provide treatment to family members.
“That can be very difficult in small places where there are lots of whānau and not many GPs, and it's really difficult to get locums.
“It’s a tough one - is it OK to do consults with second cousins for example? What about first cousins, aunties and uncles? Where do you draw the line?”
The third big thing on Martin’s mind is how primary care takes advantage of technology, an area he says presents great opportunity but which must be approached with care.
All three issues were included in Martin’s address to the conference, a speech he had about six weeks to prepare himself for after learning of his success in a letter from the College.
“I had no idea that I had even been put forward for this. It was a real shock but I have to say it is pretty cool to be recognised like this.”
Medical Educator Sally Cater, who was Martin’s nominator for the Peter Anyon Medal, says in the award citation: “Martin has returned to his home community to become a GP and is extremely passionate about improving the health of the locals in his community. He advocates very strongly for his patients who need secondary health services.
“His story is inspiring for those who may feel that medicine is an out of reach career for them.”
Source: Royal NZ College of General Practitioners
Come walking with us
Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki Whānau Ora Navigators are hoping whānau will join the Hikoi ā Whānau walking series around Hauraki during March.
Walking is FREE and a great way to connect with your community!
Walking reduces stress, lowers your blood pressure, improves sleep and energises you!
Hikoi ā Whānau offers:
Aroha – giving with no expectation of return;
Whanāungatanga – It’s about being connected;
Whakapapa – knowing who you are;
Mana/Manaaki – building the mana of others, through nurturing and growing; and
Korero awhi – positive communication.
No matter what your age, size, level of fitness or situation
Waihi - March 6: 10.30am - 12 noon – Meet at the Goldmine lookout
Thames - March 13: 10.30am - 12 noon – Meet at Victoria Park
Coromandel - March 20: 10.30am-12 noon – Meet at the Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki clinic
Paeroa - March 27 10.30am- 12 noon – Meet at Paeroa Domain
Whānau Ora Navigator
if interested in joining
Hikoi ā Whānau
Beneficiaries who need free professional help with Work and Income issues such as entitlements, fraud/relationship investigations, reviews, appeals, and more can make an appointment to see a Waikato Community Law Advocate visiting Thames and Te Aroha next month.
Community Law Waikato advocate Ben Hoffman is experienced in Welfare Law and will be available by appointment only in Thames on March 22 and Te Aroha on March 15 from 12.30-3pm. Spaces are limited, so those needing welfare advice need to book on 0800 529 482.
Ben will also be providing training on Welfare Law for all community organisations that support beneficiaries. The training will include learning about entitlements, benefits, relationship status, common problems, reviews, appeals and more. The training is free, but a gold coin koha is appreciated to cover some of the costs. Training is from 10.30am to 12 noon.
Community Law Waikato provides free legal help to those in the Waikato who would otherwise not have access.
Training and appointments:
Thames – Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki, 210 Richmond Street, March 22
Te Aroha – Senior Citizens Association, 24 Church Street, Te Aroha, March 15
To make an appointment, phone 0800 529 482.
A Whānau Hauora Day hosted by Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki alongside the TCDC and local community, will be held at Hauraki Terrace Playground and Community Gardens on Waitangi Day, Wednesday, February 6.
The aim of the day is to promote the community gardens and make community connections.
The opening of a Pataka Kai/Community Pantry, gardening, a cooking demo, craft making, games, a hangi, BBQ, bouncy castle and an eagerness to learn are all also on the agenda.
From 11-2pm, whānau from neighbouring streets and throughout the community will be able to come along to the community gardens and help harvest the potatoes to be used in a sweetcorn and potato fritters cooking demo. Tamariki will have heaps to keep them entertained, including lots of games and a bouncy castle.
T3 (Transition Town Thames) maintains the community gardens, holding monthly working bees to encourage community participation and on-the-spot learning, but it is hoped that eventually the community will take ownership of them.
“We want people from the community to look after the gardens and to make them sustainable,” Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki Poukura Oranga, Manager Public and Community Health Services Debbie Petersen-Pilcher says.
This is a smoke and alcohol-free event and chilled water will be available all day.
Thanks to Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki, T3, TCDC and local whānau.
What: Hauraki Terrace Whānau Hauora Day
Where: Hauraki Terrace, Thames