Today is a cold, windy August day and I’m sitting here with a filthy cold (sorry, flu – I’m a man!) contemplating my very hectic schedule. At times like this, it’s more important than ever to remind ourselves of why we’re here and why what we are doing is so important.
This was brought home to me when I attended the launch of the Rheumatic Fever Prevention Programme at Otara’s Rongomai School recently. The launch was celebrated by Associate Minister of Health, Tariana Turia, our Professor of Community Paediatrics, Diana Lennon, and others, but the most important people present, I felt, were the primary school students themselves.
Looking at all those lovely kids, it struck me just what potential they have and how incredibly important it is that we are successful in all that we do, especially eradicating rheumatic fever from South Auckland. While we were waiting, one of our doctors told me that at least two or three of the kids present would already have had rheumatic fever and would suffer the long-term consequences for the rest of their lives. When you consider that rheumatic fever is preventable, I found that really quite heartbreaking.
What we do is not just about budgets or numbers or ticking boxes. It’s about people, particularly those kids who should have, must have, a fantastic future in front of them. Our responsibility as a DHB is to kick the roadblocks out of their way so that they can realise their potential. And I’m not just talking about their health potential. We also need to engage with the education system to develop them and give them the best opportunities for the future. I would like to see the health system become a place that delivers jobs and futures as well as healthcare to our community in their localities.
So when I’m sitting here feeling busy, it’s important to ground myself and realise that the endless meetings, the squillions of emails and the internal counting of paperclips is all in the pursuit of a better future for children like those at Rongomai School and their families. That is what gets me out of bed in the morning, as it has since I started my career in public health.
Speaking of ‘grounding myself’, you’ll remember that late last year I blogged about Keeping Well and confessed to meditating on plane trips to and from Wellington. Following on from that discussion of workplace wellness, it was fantastic to see our first Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction training course get underway at Ko Awatea last week. Co-facilitated by one of our Senior Clinical Psychologists, Jo Soldan, the first session went extremely well and there was lots of interest from staff in workplace mindfulness and how this can improve resilience and reduce burnout. If you missed out this time, applications are already open for the November course.
Finally, I’d also like to extend a big thank you to Kim Wiseman and her team in Recruitment. Following on from my offer to all staff last year, I recently spent some time ‘shadowing’ the Recruitment team and learning about the work they’re doing to engage staff and attract the best talent possible to CMDHB. It was great to meet you all and find out more about what you’re doing to bring the best and brightest to Counties. Keep up the good work.