January 07, 2022
Covid prompts calls for more nurses
Māori health providers are crying out for registered nurses to start work immediately.
Operations co-lead Elijah Pue from Te Ranga Tupua – an iwi collective of Māori health providers from Waimarino, Rangitīkei, Whanganui and South Taranaki – says they are all share the same problem: a shortage of clinical nurses despite good conditions and rates of pay.
The collective has set up four mobile Covid-19 response teams led by Te Oranganui Trust in Whanganui, Ngā Waihua o Paerangi Trust in Waimarino, and Te Kōtuku Hauora and Mōkai Pātea Services who together deliver a team in Rangitīkei.
Tupoho Iwi and Community Social Services are also delivering a welfare function in Whanganui and across the rohe.
Pue says they need more nurses so other staff can return to their normal duties and not ‘burn out’ from Covid overload.
In Waimarino, for example, they have three nurses for Covid vaccinations but two of those staff also have other roles and responsibilities.
“There are other day-to-day health issues that need to be dealt with – it’s not just about Covid.”
According to Pue, the pandemic has highlighted the divide with serious and ongoing problems of systemic racism.
Māori health providers, on the other hand, are demonstrating that another way can work.
At Te Ranga Tupua, rather than waiting to see a clincial staff member in a sterile room for a few minutes, whānau receive a wrap-around health service complete with kai, food vouchers, music, kōrero and laughter.
If they have other health issues, kaimahi try to address those as well.
“We make it a big deal with our clinics. We’re there to help them and if they need assistance in other areas, we work on that as well.”
Pue quotes Takutai Moana Natasha Kemp from Manurewa Marae – “we do whatever it takes with whatever we have” – but he says Covid has completely changed the health sector.
As well as calling on the Government to address the dire shortage of nurses and support Māori health providers, Pue says this is an opportune time for iwi to look at how they can support their own people into these roles.
More Māori nurses are needed but it’s even better if they can whakapapa back to the local area.
“Let’s face it – if our people are getting a Covid jab, they would much rather get it from someone they know and feel comfortable with.”