Dr Clark was hosted by MidCentral Board Chairperson Dot McKinnon and MidCentral DHB Chief Executive Kathryn Cook, who provided the Minister with an overview of the DHB’s plans before taking him on a brief tour of the hospital.
One of the areas visited was the new Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) suite, which was officially opened just a few days earlier on 1 July. Delivered at the end of April, the new MRI machine is state-of-the-art technology capable of producing top-quality images.
During the tour of the suite, Dr Clark spoke to MRI staff about the machine’s capabilities and the decision to in-source this facility.
“The new MRI suite is a really fantastic addition to the services offered here at Palmerston North Hospital”, Dr Clark said. “I understand the new MRI will provide the MidCentral community with a quality healthcare service while also offering DHB staff increased professional opportunities and a greater level of integration and support across services.”
One of the features of the new MRI suite is the addition of a small replica MRI machine that children can play with before receiving treatment to familiarise themselves with the process. Young patients are also given superhero toys and capes to play with to make their visit even less intimidating.
“I was impressed by the efforts made by staff to make younger patients feel calm and not frightened by the experience, which is something I’m sure both the patients and their loved ones greatly appreciate”, Dr Clark said.
Dr Clark also visited the operating theatres, and had a discussion with clinical staff about elective capacity and the interim measures to increase the number of electives provided to the community ahead of a planned redevelopment of the hospital’s acute services area.
A visit to the gastroenterology suite focused on the proposed roll out of the National Bowel Screening Programme at MidCentral DHB at the end of the year.
“I would like to thank all of the staff I met during today’s visit for familiarising me with some of the key issues and developments at MidCentral DHB”, Dr Clark said. “As the Minister of Health, it is very important I have an understanding of the experiences and challenges New Zealand’s health professionals are facing. These types of visits offer valuable insights that will enable us to implement and support improvements to our health system.”
Dr Clark was accompanied on the tour by Dr Ashley Bloomfield, the Director-General of the Ministry of Health.
Board Chairperson Dot McKinnon thanked Dr Clark and Dr Bloomfield for making the trip to Palmerston North Hospital.
“Like any District Health Board, MidCentral has its challenges, as well as its successes,” Ms McKinnon said. “Having the Minister and the Director-General here to discuss these issues directly with DHB staff offers us an invaluable opportunity to pass on information relevant to MidCentral’s population to the health sector’s national decision makers.”