Spotlight on Murchison
In the September issue of the Nelson Marlborough Health Connections staff magazine, we put the
Extra demand for health services in Murchison
When the November 2016 Kaikoura earthquake damaged the coastal road south, traffic from Blenheim to Christchurch was diverted along the alternative inland route through Lewis Pass.
Since then the cars and trucks have rattled through small towns on roads never designed to deal with so much traffic.
In Murchison, while some businesses have been enjoying the increased business, Christine Horner, Charge Nurse Manager at the Murchison Hospital and Health Centre says they've also been experiencing extra demand for services.
“There's the extra travellers, and also a lot more people staying in town – like road workers and retail staff,” she says.
Christine says there have been more occasions when staff have had to use the STEMI pathway.
This form of heart attack requires the PRIME nurse and paramedics to administer thrombolysis (clot busting drugs) in the field to ‘dissolve’ blood clots within a patient’s heart. Patients are then transported to a heart centre for assessment and stent surgery if required.
Murchison has responded to one patient each month in the last three months requiring thrombolysis, all whom have been tourists passing through or have travelled there to work on the roads.
She says she has also observed an increase in PRIME emergency callouts responding to roadside accidents. Thankfully, the majority have low impact or low injury outcomes.
“We assume this is due to the slower speeds enforced on the open road traffic flow because of the number of vehicles, particularly large freight trucks,” she says. “As well as the additional yellow no passing lanes, increased numbers of highway patrol cars and speed restrictions introduced since becoming the main highway.”
She says while the demand for services has picked up this year Murchison staff face diversity in their work every day.
Medical students get a taste of rural life
The Murchison Hospital and Health Centre is hosting six to eight medical students over the next few months.
The 5th year students are on the one year University of Otago, Rural Medical Immersion Programme designed to encourage a career pathway into rural General Practice.
Christine Horner says the experience gives the students a valuable insight in to the wide variety of medical conditions they may have to deal with in a remote and rural setting.
She says feedback so far has been very positive, with the students enjoying attending off site emergencies and the unusual medical conditions presenting at the Centre.
The students work alongside the GPs and Nurse Practitioners in clinics and attend emergencies and acute presentations.
They are based in Blenheim and Greymouth and attend the Murchison service for one or two weeks each.