Posted by Elaine Wogan on Oct 11, 2020
This week we had the pleasure of hosting Patricia Mitchell CEO for Health Connections, a primary care service based in Papatoetoe and delivering health care to children and young people. Pat trained in the UK as a pediatric nurse. After arriving in NZ she completed her Master of Nursing and have a growing conviction that Registered Nurses with the right knowledge and skill set could lead on the care for children and young people and develop a service that puts the young person in the driving seat! The service was set up 8 years ago and was born out of frustration that young people struggle to access health services in a consistent manner or miss out on access to services as traditional family GP practices are not always a place young people want to access. 
Health Connections believe children and young people in Manukau have the right to wellness focussed and proactive primary care services/general practice. The service has been delivering care to youth people in the youth prison in Wiri. What they have found is a group of young people with very poor health, no immunisations, poor dental care, drug & alcohol issues and sexual health issues. Its been a very big concern for the service and over the last 5 years they have learnt a lot about how they can work differently to support young people. One key message for us was that young people don’t access traditional GP practices!
On 1st March this year Health connections set up their first Youth Health Practice to bridge the gap, they provide an assertive approach to health care with proactive follow up via phone calls, text messages and emails. They don’t wait for the person to come back to them but keep in touch encouraging them to return and keep up appointments. They want young people to feel that health is a priority, good wellbieng is key. Get it right now and the person will enjoy longer good health outcomes in the future. All their appointments are for a minimum of 30 minutes and if needed can be extended to 45 minutes. They will respond to walk ins – young people tend to arrive with their mates and these opportunistic moments to connect with them is really valuable.
Health connections want to support the young persons long term view of health and not seek care when there are issues but remain connected to health services and the concept of Wellbeing.  At the current time they are delivering this service in Papatoetoe and Grey Lynn they aim to set up more services in the deep south at Pukekohe, West Auckland and North Shore. They want to be available and mirror the transience of young people. Health Connections have committed to services being free to young people. In order to be sustainable, Health Connections have a Give a Little page that receives donations to allow services to be permanently free. For example, $13.00 provides the co-payment for young people aged between 14 and 17 years and $19.50 provides the co-payment for those aged over 18 years.
Their  Give a Little page is if you would like to donate. Pat wanted to thanks the club for a lovely meeting and for being welcomed so warmly.
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