Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The Glob continues championing rural health

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October is shaping up to be a busy month for the Glob – the orange caravan you may have already seen carrying out free health checks at rural events nationwide.
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For those that haven’t already seen it in action, the Glob is a caravan fitted out specifically for general health checks at rural community events and spaces, with a GP, nurses and other volunteers all playing their part.

The initiative, which was originally the brainchild of rural advocate Craig Wiggins and brought to life by GlobalHQ (now AgriHQ), was founded in 2020 out of concern that people in isolated rural communities weren’t making their health a priority.

Since then the reins have been taken over by Lions Clubs New Zealand, who have assisted with providing smoother access to different rural communities and events, as well as reducing overall costs while expanding their services.

The first of October’s events took the Glob up to the Ōpunake Health Expo on the 13th, with the Hāwera Car and Bike Show following on the 16th, a trip to the Āpiti Tavern on the 21st and October’s travels culminating with the Hunterville Shepherds’ Shemozzle on the 29th.

Dr Warren Nicholls, who contributes as the Glob’s GP, says the health checks are broken down into three parts, with the final part involving him deciding whether he should recommend they see their GP.

“So firstly they fill out a questionnaire and give us some details, and they also answer a mental health questionnaire,” Nicholls explained.

“After doing this they go into the caravan and the nurse does all the clinical stuff like height, weight, blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood glucose.

“And from there they come through to me and I will recommend they see their GP if something is wrong, and it is then their responsibility then to go and see them.

“These rural communities’ reactions are 100% positive, and we keep getting these messages from partners and wives saying that they’re a completely different person.”

Dr Warren Nicholls

Nicholls says that there has been an alarming number of people coming through who have been identified as needing to see their GP, as well as in some cases having serious health issues uncovered.

“Twenty-five percent of these people coming through have been identified as needing to see their GP, and to me that is really concerning,” he said.

“At the [Feilding] farmers market which we recently attended, 21 people came through for a health check and one of them had a blood pressure of 200 over 120, which is stroke material.

“Also one had a blood sugar of 23, so he was an undiagnosed diabetic who is now on insulin, and one had a squamous cell carcinoma growing on his ear.

“Also a lady had a melanoma growing on the side of her face, so that is four out of 21 from a random crowd.”

Given the success of the initiative, Nicholls says other organisations have recently come on board to support them and ensure its longevity.

“There’s a company called Digital, which provides low-cost modems for farmers, and we’ve also got a clinical psychologist and a pharmacist who are keen to come on board, as well as St John helping the nurses with their clinical stuff, ” he said.

“So we’ve got all these other people who are not directly a part of the Glob, but they are a part of the overall service for the rural community.

He says that he has seen first hand the effect this is having on the people who have been through for a check-up, which are in some cases life-changing.

“These rural communities’ reactions are 100% positive, and we keep getting these messages from partners and wives saying that they’re a completely different person, ” he said.

“We know from our own figures that 52% of people from these communities had not seen their GP for two years or more.

“After they have gone through the Glob, we’ve asked them if they will and 80% have said that they’ll make sure they have their yearly check, so it’s been life-changing for these people.”

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