Māori health services support helps fill potentially wasted theatre time. For over ten years local Māori have had access to support from He Pukenga Hauora on admission to either Nelson or Wairau hospital. A list is generated daily that identifies inpatients that recognize their ethnicity as Māori.

Patients are approached on the ward and offered support which they can choose to accept or decline. Support from He Pukenga Hauora has had a positive influence in a number of areas, including the potentially negative effect from people failing to attend appointments. This story reflects how the embrace of Māori health, the flexible use of precious resources and quick thinking surgeons, enabled a Māori patient to benefit from a surgical cancellation.


Georgie's story

During a home visit, Georgie showed her community nurse a black birthmark on her hand that had recently changed colour and had become increasingly itchy and sore. The nurse arranged for Georgie to see her GP and agreed to accompany her to the appointment. Georgie was referred to the Oncology specialist at Nelson hospital where she was met and supported by Tui from He Pukenga Hauora Māori inpatient services.

At that appointment she was advised that a biopsy was required to determine the nature of the changes in her birthmark. Georgie considered not turning up for her biopsy procedure and relayed this to Tui who reassured her that support from hospital Māori health services would be ongoing throughout her cancer journey.

On the day of the biopsy, Georgie was again met by Tui who offered reassurance and a karakia (prayer) prior to her biopsy. This helped Georgie feel less anxious and more at peace about going in for the actual procedure. During the following waiting period, Georgie felt tearful and scared of what the biopsy might have found but again was comforted and reassured that she was in good hands.

Two weeks later and again with support from Māori inpatient services, Georgie received her biopsy results that indicated that she would need to have the growth surgically removed. This would be done in Wellington.

At a follow up biopsy review by the Wellington surgeons at the Nelson outpatient clinic, Georgie was told that a surgical cancellation meant they could reschedule her surgery in Nelson for that same day. While relieved that she wouldn’t have to travel to Wellington, Georgie had not come prepared.

Fortunately she’d had an early breakfast that morning and after a making a few arrangements Georgie agreed to go ahead with the surgery later that day.

The procedure went as planned and Georgie was able to be discharged from the hospital with a good follow up plan in place. Georgie acknowledges everyone who supported her—the Nelson and Wellington hospital teams and especially hospital Māori Health services for their awhi (support). “I feel blessed for the fast and positive journey—it’s certainly one I will never forget,” she says.