Opening Celebrates Auckland Orthotic Service’ Achievements

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The opening of Auckland’s new Orthotic Service Space was a chance to reflect on how far the service has come in its short history since opening in August 2021.

Photo by Mahdi Hussainmiya.

Speaking at the opening, Orthotics Manager Helena Marshall recounted having to rapidly stand up a brand-new service three years ago that included both acute hospital and community patients across three hospital districts and a 700-patient waiting list to work through. Eleven days into the new contract, the COVID-19 lockdown happened adding more complexity and stress to that which already comes with starting a new service.

“Acute hospital service is unpredictable and does not relent, so we had to be responsive to this and quickly adapt to not only the volume of work but covering multiple sites across Auckland every day not to mention contending with traffic,” Helena recalls.

At that time, the service was being delivered by three orthotists and a service coordinator. Now there are nine orthotists, two podiatrists, three service coordinators, three orthotic technicians and a dedicated orthotic stock administrator and the team is still growing. The service is operating across seven external sites and sees over 250 hospital in-patients and over 200 community referrals a month.

“The work is about people’s lives” Helena says. It is about helping people who are living with physical pain, immobility and vulnerability achieve their goals and support them get back to work and participate in their interests and family life, she added.

Referencing increasing rates of diabetes and population growth, Northern Regional Manager Stephanie Shennan says Peke Waihanga Orthotic Service provides a “significant opportunity for orthotics to contribute positively to health outcomes and reduce the financial burden to the health system.

“Peke Waihanga is now able to explore broadening our reach and collaborating with others. An example we are already working on is collaborating with the podiatry team in Counties Manukau to establish a joint clinic in South Auckland, to improve access and coordination of care,” she says.

The opening of the new space was attended by staff, the Peke Waihanga Board and external stakeholders. It included a formal opening, a walk-through of the new space, speeches and waiata.

Photo by Mahdi Hussainmiya.

The new space includes eight clinical spaces, a conference room and a purpose-built office and is situated just across the laneway from the Auckland Centre.

Work will now start on the second stage of the Auckland building project which includes the addition of a second story to the centre. This will house a new staff room, clinical offices and a meeting room. This will free up space for improved reception, clinical and workshop spaces.