First in the Family

Every day I hear stories that remind me why I love my job.  This week I met an impressive young woman whose story I would like to share.

Around seven years ago we set up the ‘Grow Our Own’ workforce programme aimed at supporting young people, Maaori and Pacific in our area, to consider a career in health with us.

The programme received a massive kick-start through our relationship with The Tindall Foundation who provided an investment in the early years of over $3 million. Sir Stephen Tindall also played a critical role to help sponsor the programme through these early stages.  This investment provided that platform for James Cook High School and Tangaroa College to come on board and enabled the creation of the Health Science Academies.

The Academies provide extra support in Science, Maths, and English to prepare students to gain entry to tertiary study, including medical school, as well as direct contact with doctors, nurses, and other clinicians in the health field. They also enabled us to showcase practical examples of the kind of work we do at Counties Manukau Health every day.

The key was to help these young people gain the relevant NCEA qualification to get into the right kinds of tertiary programmes that would ultimately led to a path back to us, with a guaranteed job once they qualified.

We understand that not every student would end up working with us. The programme not only cultivates new ambitions about a career in the health sector, but it can also lead students to a range of careers that these subjects can offer.

The rationale underpinning it was pretty simple – if we grow a workforce that reflects our community, then we can improve how we respond to our community and better meet their healthcare needs.

We know that attracting and developing talent to the health sector is a competitive business. We draw together people regionally, nationally and internationally to meet our growing workforce demands.

We also felt that investing in these young people would have a far wider reach in the community, as well as having a positive impact on their families. And that ultimately, if we’re successful, we would enable them to become the next generation of healthcare leaders in our community.

From little things, big things grow. ‘Grow Our Own’ is now working across the region, has received funding from the Government, and has been examined by other sectors to see what they might be able to replicate in their own communities.

It was therefore a hugely satisfying moment when I was having a coffee in Ko Awatea, clearing my emails, when a young woman came up and introduced herself. Her name was Fonoifafo.  Fono was part of our first cohort in the Health Science Academy at Tangaroa College, and that process inspired her into studying nursing.

She is the first crop of young people to complete the programme, and the first in her family to be university educated.  She is driven to support children and work in our community, and has been placed with our Kidz First Public Health Nursing Team.  The day she introduced herself was the first part of her induction into Counties Manukau Health as part of our 2017 Graduate Nurse intake. Throughout her studies, she also kept connected with Counties Manukau Health through Ko Awatea’s Handle the Jandal youth-led campaign.

I don’t know who was more proud.

It was satisfying to see something go from concept, to implementation, and now to see it transforming lives as we envisaged.

We’re privileged to have supported Fono to achieve her dreams. And she in turn has helped us make Counties Manukau Health a place that not only provides excellent healthcare, but also transforms the lives of those who work here.

Part of the inspiration for ‘Grow Our Own’ was my own experience. Back in the United Kingdom, I grew up in a place that was every bit as challenging as parts of our community with low levels of tertiary education, and even lower paid jobs for those who lived there.

I was lucky because a couple of people helped me. I ended up being the first person in my family to go to university. This education helped me transform my life, shaped my ambitions, and enabled me to have the life that I have today.

I can’t repay the people who helped me enough for their belief in me, but hopefully I can pay it forward to others. So thank you Fono for helping me achieve my dreams too.

What a great way to start the New Year. Thank you again Fono, and welcome to Counties Manukau Health.

Lessons from 46 years in health

Recently I attended the retirement celebration for Kathie Smith, Service Manager for ORL, Ophthalmology and Audiology.  The high esteem with which Kathie is regarded was demonstrated by the large turn-out of people, from all areas of our organisation.

Kathie has been working at CM Health for 46 years and during that time has helped shape the careers of many staff members fortunate enough to work with her.  Kathie has made a  major contribution  to the health of the wider Counties Manukau community and had a profound effect on the development and shape of our current and future health services.  To her credit she has helped make the Manukau SuperClinic and Surgery Centre the world class facility it is today.   While Kathie will be sorely missed, we wish her well for her retirement.   I’ll  now hand you over to Kathie to share her reflections of her time at CM Health.

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The Lymphoedema Service at Middlemore Hospital saved my life

From [L] Peggy, Tracy and Jodie
From [L] Peggy, Tracy and Jodie
Eight years ago Tracy hadn’t heard of Lymphoedema – a swelling in an area of the body due to damaged lymph nodes.

Tracy was a fit, active young woman, competing in track and field. Lymphoedema hadn’t crossed her mind – why would it?   However, that was about to change when she rolled her ankle while taking part in a search and rescue exercise. “My ankle started to swell up, however instead of the swelling coming down over time, it got worse. At one stage you couldn’t tell my ankle from the rest of my leg,” says Tracy.

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Moments of excellence

We have moments of excellence in our organisation every day and that’s due to the people who work here. People who are passionate about what they do and have a real ‘fire in their belly’ for providing the best care they can and making a difference. Meet Eti Televave and Tanya du Plessis, two staff members who strive to be the best in what they do, yet remain humble, thankful and determined to give back to the people and communities that supported them. Eti is a senior physiotherapist who recently graduated from a Pasifika Leadership Programme and Tanya was awarded Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand (PSNZ) Pharmacist of the year (2015).

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The most enjoyable blog I have written

Before I begin, I have to say writing this blog gave me so much enjoyment. The two short letters I’m about to share, highlight the amazing, caring, compassionate and skilled people working at CM Health, and these are just the people I know about. The below feedback was sent in from Sandy Neva who works in EC and the Mihaere family whose premature baby, Kaiden was admitted to Neonatal Care.

Both these stories are great examples of our values and strategy in action.

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Happy New Year

Happy New year and welcome back. I hope that you, like me have had a great break and are looking forward to the new challenges that this year will bring.

We reached some other very important decision points at the end of the year which we will build on this year. The pace of change will increase this year as we put some key initiatives in place – including the key areas of localities and community hubs, in particular redesigning integrated care and how we can improve our use of technology to modernise out-patient and referral practices.

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A Christmas Miracle

Pae continues to grow stronger every day

My final blog this year is about a 15-year old boy called Pae, who was admitted to Middlemore Hospital with two life threatening conditions. Thanks to his supportive family and incredible teamwork by the staff looking after him, Pae defied all odds and continues to grow stronger every day. Pauline Owens, Stroke Nurse Specialist shares Pae’s story.

It was a rainy Friday evening when Pae, was brought into Emergency Care. Pae collapsed at home and was found by his grandad, unconscious and barely breathing. On arrival to Emergency Care, Pae was examined by senior doctors from Emergency, Medicine, ICU and Neurology, and following a series of tests was found to have a stroke on his brain stem and an unstable neck fracture.  Both of these life-threatening conditions left Pae unable to speak, or move his arms or legs – all while being aware of what was going on around him.   The fear was that Pae was not going to make it and if he did his quality of life would be extremely poor. He was to prove everyone wrong.

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Equity is about fairness – having the same opportunities to the best start in life

Today I’m joined by Mataroria Lyndon, an aspiring young Maaori doctor who is passionate about taking on the challenges of our health system, making it a better place for our tamariki and our most vulnerable populations. Mataroria shares some key insights into how we can narrow the health and poverty gap, and in doing so move a step closer in our quest for health equity.

Dr Lyndon
Dr Lyndon

Growing up, I wanted to make a difference for people living in South Auckland and Northland – my communities. I have seen Maaori and Pacific children suffering from heart failure, because of rheumatic fever. I have seen my elders pass away from chronic disease, well before their time. That’s why when I heard we had chosen ‘valuing everyone’ as an organisational value, I thought about valuing equity.

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CM Health launches new values and strategic plan

Our new values
Our new values

Yesterday (10 September) CM Health launched its refreshed values and strategic plan, signaling a new and exciting era for our organisation. This work has been months in the planning with over 2000 people sharing their ideas as to how we can consistently be at our best for our patients, whaanau and families, and each other, and the choices we need to make to progress our goal to work together to achieve health equity.

While the conversations around our ‘Healthy Together’ strategy will continue (click here for our strategic plan), our new values: Kind, Valuing everyone, Together and Excellent, tell a story of how we can provide great care and a great experience at work.

So where does our story begin?

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Volunteers at the ‘Heart’ of CM Health

Our volunteers do a wonderful job, and it was great to see this acknowledged during National Volunteer Week (21-27 June).  To top off the week, our Manukau SuperClinic (MSC) volunteers were runner-ups at the 2015 Minister of Health Volunteer Awards.  Presenting the Award for ‘Health care provider service volunteer team’ was Associate Health Minister Hon Peseta Sam Lotu-liga. “This award shows what people can do when they work together,” said Hon Peseta Sam Lotu-liga. “You are indeed the face behind great customer service.”

While it was great for our MSC volunteers to be recognised, all of our volunteers at CM Health offer their time generously to help patients and visitors throughout our various sites.  Being the first face, our visitors see as they come through the doors, a warm welcome, and a smile from a volunteer does wonders for a person, who may be vulnerable, anxious or unsure where to go.

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