Doctor fears virus 
keeping people away

Doctor fears virus keeping people away

2 April 2020

By Alison Mau

Stuff - March 31

A rural GP fears people with serious medical conditions are staying away from their doctor because of coronavirus.

Dr Martin Mikaere, who works at Te Korowai clinic in Thames, says his clinic treats about 15 heart attacks a month in normal circumstances and a similar number of strokes and complications from diabetes.

However, he's concerned those people are now staying away, either from fear of coronavirus, or because they don't want to be a burden.

"Covid-19 is a problem, however the stuff we see is not going to dry up and go away. I really want people to know their GP is here, the service is the same, it just looks a little bit different," he said.

In Auckland, Waitematā District Health Board general manager of primary care Matt Hannant said it was important people still reached out to their GP for any non-coronavirus health concerns.

They should also go to the emergency department when they needed to, he said.

"Over recent days, we have seen a pattern of people presenting to EDs at a very late stage when they are seriously ill. The message we want people to hear is that it is still okay to access the hospital ED before health concerns become critical."

Mikaere is entering his fourth straight week of work without a break. His clinic has the only Covid-19 testing station on the Coromandel Peninsula and has tested about 70 people, with 10 recording positive results.

One person had been hospitalised but had since recovered, he said.

He said the nationwide lockdown had been difficult for his mostly-Māori community, especially for grieving families as most marae had closed and tangihanga were not an option for most.

New regulations for tangihanga restrict mourners to those in the deceased person's "bubble". They are permitted to attend funeral directors' premises, but if their loved one died away from home, they would have to be buried in the area they died or cremated for burial closer to home later.

"It sounds pretty heartbreaking. A lot of the time now, [people] are being buried by relative strangers," Mikaere said.

"People are saying, maybe keep your loved one at home for a couple of days. Once you send them on the embalmers, you probably can't see them again."

He said people opting to do this would need to make sure police were contacted.

Mental health was also a major concern in the lockdown, Mikaere said.

Patients with serious depression usually came to see him because "someone they're close to has identified there's a problem".

However, that was less likely to happen now because people were in close contact with fewer friends and family members, he said.

"We're encouraging people to use that 1737 national helpline number, and for people to check in on each other. Do phone a friend and do have a Zoom chat or FaceTime.

"That's how I'm doing a lot of my consultations and it's really lovely to see people's faces. It helps build the reserves that you need to get through."

See article here DR MIKAERE - STUFF


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