Health bus nearly ready to roll

The new Women's Health Bus (Te Waka Wahine Hauora) is expected to be completed and in the region...
The new Women's Health Bus (Te Waka Wahine Hauora) is expected to be completed and in the region in mid-May, ready to provide health services to women in isolated areas. Dunedin-based obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Helen Paterson (left) and Junction Health practice co-owner and practice nurse Alice van Zijl, of Cromwell, are looking forward to its arrival. Photo: SRL files
The new Women's Health Bus (Te Waka Wahine Hauora) is expected to arrive in the Otago and Southland region next month, service co-founder Dr Helen Paterson, of Dunedin, says.

The non-profit mobile health service has been in the planning stages for about two years, but last year obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Paterson and Junction Health practice co-owner and practice nurse Alice van Zijl, of Cromwell, ordered the purpose-built vehicle from a specialist Whangaparaoa building firm.

Dr Paterson said the health bus would provide women's health services, including cervical screening and contraception, to women in Otago and Southland's rural and isolated communities.

They wanted to make it easier for rural women to access the services without having to drive a long distance.

The 6.8m Mercedes Benz Sprinter mobile home is expected to cost about $270,000, not including stock and equipment.

Rural Women New Zealand has been fundraising for the vehicle.

It will also have videoconferencing and its own generator and stabilisers so it can work in more remote locations.

It was financed with an interest-free loan, expected to be paid back in about five years.

''I went up there in March to see it and it is looking fantastic,'' she said.

''The guys building it are perfectionists, which is why it is taking a little longer.

''It is a labour of love for those guys and they have done a beautiful job.''

The vehicle is now being painted, and when it receives its compliance certification, will be delivered in mid-May.

''It is coming down on the back of something.''

They hoped to hold an official launch and intend to visit Oamaru and Cromwell during its maiden voyage.

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