WellSouth is supporting general practices to re-engage and reconnect with Māori, encouraging them to catch-up on any health care that may have been missed during the COVID-19 lockdown.
WellSouth clinicians are making telephone calls to Māori patients to check on their health and well-being, and offering influenza vaccinations to anyone who’s not yet received theirs.
Patients contacted are simply asked – “How are you? How are your whānau? Do you have any health concerns?” People contacted so far have appreciated the gesture.
Peter Ellison, WellSouth Associate Māori Health Officer, says it is important for general practice to maintain a connection with Māori communities: “We want to ensure Māori access primary care services and to help general practice to support Māori communities. WellSouth has a commitment to achieving equitable health outcomes for Māori, and are working together with Iwi, hapū, whānau, Māori providers and communities.”
“The winter months are difficult, but especially this year, with the COVID-19 lockdown, some people may not have sought the care they would have ordinarily.
Initially trialled with patients from a Dunedin practice, the Māori wellness checks will be rolled out across the district in the coming weeks.
WellSouth Call Centre
The outbound calls are being made from WellSouth Clinical Services Call Centre, which was set up during COVID to provide information and bookings for testing in the Southern region. And while this continues to be the call centre’s primary function, it’s also helping support other services provided to the public and to WellSouth practices.
“We identified Māori wellness checks as a priority as we moved to Alert Level 1,” says Andrew Swanson-Dobbs, CEO, WellSouth. “But there are other areas where the call centre can and will be used to improve access to services in the future, including supporting Southern’s bowel cancer screening programme, as well as for some mental health and outreach nursing services.”