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March, 2022

Despite closed borders and many of Queenstowns migrant population
having had to return home during the past 18 months theres big
demand for Queenstown Medical Centres new Jacks Point practice
opening soon.
Queenstown Medical Centre chief executive Ashley Light says in a very
tough labour climate right now theyve managed to attract some quality
new doctors with two long-term GPs leaving the practice. Dr Tonya
Cruickshank, whose popular specialist allergy clinic has a waitlist of
patients, is bowing out after more than 20 years of service. However,
fortunately the allergy clinic will continue, he says. Tonya will be doing
contract work for the centre, similar to long-time GP and centre
director Dr Richard Macharg, who resigned last year. He will be
contracted to do some speciality clinics this year.
But Ashley says the community is in good hands in that regard with the
arrival of Dr Euan Speirits, who has a background as an orthopaedic
registrar. Euan will head up the centres Isle Street fracture clinic and
work in urgent care. He most recently hails from Rotorua where he is
the medical director for Crankworx, the multi-stop mountain bike
festival. Hes been working with top mountain bikers on performance
and treating injuries and will be bringing these skills to Queenstown.
Auckland GP Dr Coran Turner is moving to Queenstown to join the centre
team, as well.
Were also talking to a couple of other new GPs, says Ashley.
Dr Katelyn Costello is taking a temporary break from QMC from this
month (March) as she begins maternity leave, but will possibly return
for one GP session a week in July or August.
Theres still plenty of demand for medical centre services with a big
uptake in the number of people accessing mental health support
through the centres HIA (Health Improvement Professional), as well as
the centre health coach. Were lucky to have these two floating
between our three centres  Isle Street, Remarkables Park and
Arrowtown, and, once it opens, Jacks Point.
Its a government response to funding primary health care needs in the
wake of the Covid crisis and Ashley says these two staff have been
very, very busy with the effects of the past two years. Its a free
service to any enrolled patients.
The new Jacks Point centre has been planned for some time and will
open sometime in April with a few delays imposed due to uncertainties
around Covid restrictions. Three GPs will be based there, along with
nurses and a healthcare assistant, all operating out of the new centres
seven consulting rooms.
We always try to keep ahead of the population growth here and people
are keen to see a doctor when they need one, and closer to home,
especially with parking challenges in downtown Queenstown, says
Fuel prices are rising and its not so easy for people to access the other
centres with huge population growth continuing in the Jacks Point,
Hanleys Farm areas, as well as the new Homestead Bay development
now underway. Planned hotels and commercial, as well as residential,
development, meant the centre needed a presence on the ground out
there. Everything beyond the Kawarau Bridge, Hanleys Farm, Double
Cone, is back filling, says Ashley.
Were seeing growth in enrolments. Certainly there are less people
here for tourism, but I dont think theres been a huge departure of
locals, says Ashley. Were seeing a lot more people moving down here
from the North Island in the past year or so, especially people escaping
lockdowns in Auckland. He says government visa changes have also
allowed many people to stay on and some are now seeking residency.
Due to the Covid situation people are now much more aware of their
health and want to see doctors and nurses. Managing Covid-19 has
been the biggest challenge for general practices all over the country,
especially with staff shortages everywhere. Definitely the primary care
network (general practice) in New Zealand is under pressure, but
thankfully we seem to be doing okay at Queenstown Medical Centre,
he says.
People are more aware of managing their mental health and wellbeing,
and making sure their tamariki have their regular childhood
The original Queenstown Medical Centre in downtown Queenstown
opened in 1970. The centre now has 22 doctors and about 19 nurses,
plus support staff, scattered throughout its practices.

Source: Lakes Weekly News


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