New Mobile Health Clinic for West Auckland and North Shore
The Well Foundation has funded a new Mobile Health Clinic which will be visiting schools in West Auckland and the North Shore as part of the Rheumatic Fever prevention throat swabbing programme to provide free throat swabs to children in the hope of eliminating the Strep A bug.
When six-year-old Dayna Sepiti had her throat swabbed as part of a routine sore throat and health check by a Public Health Nurse at her West Auckland primary school, her mum, Fuatino Segi was shocked by the Streptococcal infection result as Dayna hadn’t been unwell.
By the time the lab results came back a few days later confirming Positive Group A Streptococcus infection (that can lead to Rheumatic Fever if left untreated), Dayna had developed a cough which had spread to her four-year-old brother, Daniel.
“I’ve always thought that only kids that live in damp, mouldy and overcrowded homes are at risk for Rheumatic Fever. We live in a warm, dry home so I had lots of questions. The first thing I asked was how it could happen to us?” says Fuatino.
While children living in crowded housing conditions and areas of socio-economic deprivation have the highest rates of Rheumatic Fever; it is an autoimmune disease that starts with ‘strep throat’ – a throat infection caused by Group A Streptococcus bacteria. If strep throat is not treated with antibiotics it can cause Rheumatic Fever in children and the risk of getting Rheumatic Fever gets higher when someone has these repeated untreated throat infections.
In Dayna’s case, her strep throat infection was possibly picked up at primary school through contact with other infected children.
Unfortunately Dayna and Daniel suffered from recurring bouts of the illness which also spread to Fuatino, who was concerned for the health of her youngest son, Maison, who was only one-year-old at the time.
Treatment for the reoccurring Group A Strep throat bacteria included receiving a Bicillin (penicillin antibiotic) injection which Dayna and Daniel had to have twice.
“It was horrible having to have the injection. Daniel screamed as it was so painful, but it was necessary to treat the infection,” says Fuatino.
After spending months consulting with doctors, nurses and the children’s school, Fuatino has now managed to keep the Group A Strep throats away from her family through educating her children about hygiene and the risks of sharing food and drink bottles in particular. She also regularly gives her children probiotics which she credits for helping with their immunity, especially over the colder winter months.
Thanks to this new Mobile Health Clinic, Group A Strep throats can be diagnosed and treated early, which will mean that more vulnerable children like Dayna and Daniel can avoid the dangerous consequences caused by Rheumatic Fever.
Ruth Noel, Team Leader of Child & Family West at Waitemata District Health Board says, “This wonderful new clinic replaces our existing 18-year-old cramped and mechanically unreliable van, allowing our nurses to see more children in harder to reach areas of the community. The van will have multiple uses by our service throughout the WDHB catchment e.g. the Western Park health clinic in Ranui and community based health event days such as Toddler day out”
With the new mobile clinic’s self-sufficient power supply, nurses no longer need to run a power lead to use it which allows it to go to new areas and locations within the West Auckland, North Shore and Rodney communities, reaching more children and their whanau than ever before.
The Mobile Health Clinic was funded by the Well Foundation – the official fundraising body of the Waitemata District Health Board – through generous donations from Pak N Save, The Southern Trust and the Sky City Auckland Community Trust.
Last year, the Well Foundation successfully fundraised for our first new Mobile Health Clinic which has been in the community performing free Ear Nurse Checks and treatments and has already seen around 1500 children from ages 1 – 18 years.
Fundraising is nearly complete for a third Mobile Health Clinic, which will provide dental services to the community. Click here to make a donation towards this clinic.