Patient enrolments drive expansion
5 August 2015
AFTER opening its doors just 13 months ago, Kawerau Medical Centre is adding three new rooms to its Islington Street centre to accommodate growing enrolments.
Owner and general practitioner Emily Hermanson said the practice reached 3300 patients last month with more people joining each week.
“We are bursting at the seams. We want to employ more staff, but we can’t until we have more space.”
The extension will add two more consulting rooms for doctors and a new room for nurses, which will double as a site for day surgeries.
Dr Hermanson hoped this space would attract specialists to Kawerau so patients would not need to travel to Whakatane for appointments.
The new site will open in October and the completed building will extend to the footpath on Islington Street.
Along with visits from specialists, Dr Hermanson said she was interested in using the extra space to offer clinics about different health care topics, including rheumatic fever, cellulitis and diabetes.
When Kawerau Medical Centre first opened in 2014, Dr Hermanson planned to extend the centre’s building, but needed to reach 3000 patients to afford the alterations.
She said the centre’s success was based on attracting enrolments and providing services free of charge when possible, without appointments.
“We have tailored our business to suit the community’s needs,” Dr Hermanson said.
“Many people in Kawerau don’t have phones, transport, or child care, so they want to come in when they have time and the ability.”
She said a recent national health care study showed 28 percent of New Zealand adults had an unmet health need and the main barrier was not being unable to see a doctor on the day.
This model created a surge of patients – and Mondays and Fridays remained hectic – but after this initial influx the community would reach a point where its health needs were met, she said.
“Our goal is for Kawerau to have the healthiest population in the country.”
Dr Hermanson said a year after opening patients still thanked her for coming to Kawerau.
The centre was recognised by the wider Eastern Bay business community last year when it won the best-emerging-business award in November 2014 at the Horizon Business Excellence Awards.
Source: Whakatane Beacon