The “Woman’s Health Bus” (Te Waka Wahine Hauora) held its first clinic in Cromwell on Friday after nearly two years of planning, designing and fundraising.
Its co-founders, obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Helen Paterson, of Dunedin, (who sold her flat to fund the project), and Junction Health practice co-owner and practice nurse Alice van Zijl, of Cromwell, were delighted.
“Our first clinic was at Junction Health and it was fully booked,” Dr Paterson said.
The idea is the clinics focus on the individual woman, hence why it is named the Woman’s Health Bus, not the Women’s Health Bus.
Now they intend to take it on a tour through Otago and Southland. Further clinics in Oamaru and in other rural areas are planned including possibly providing services for shearing sites.
“We want to engage with the communities and hear what services they need.
“We want to hear what people want from us.”
The clinic is designed to provide health services for women living in rural areas throughout Otago and Southland, as an alternative to often having to drive long distances if they had appointments at hospitals or practices in larger centres.
By bringing the clinic to rural areas, women will have easier access to health services.
They also want to use the clinic for training for health professionals.
The $280,000 non-profit mobile health clinic is a purpose-built, new Mercedes Benz Sprinter mobile home that measures 8.1m long, 2.5m wide and 3.1 high.
Dr Paterson sold her flat to provide an $270,000 interest-free loan for five years to the non-profit service.
Other funding was from gifts and donations.
Rural Women New Zealand’s Tarras branch also raised money to be used to offset the cost to some of the women using the service and members got a look at it last Thursday.
She said in addition to the $280,000 for the vehicle, they spent another $20,000 on fit-out and supplies, with a further $20,000 expected to be spent on additional equipment.
They drove the mobile clinic to Tuatapere to show it off on Monday.
The bus has part of its logo in place, but Dr Paterson wishes to consult with those using the clinic to find out what they would like to see on the sides.