Waitemata Health Fun & Games

I’ve written before of my admiration for the New Zealand public health service. In the last four of five years New Zealand hospitals have sewn a skin graft onto my leg, repaired an infected toe, cut out three skin cancer lesions and done a patch up job on my kidneys. I still get regular attention for my kidneys from the Apollo Drive clinic.

That might sound like a burden to carry through life. But far from it. In fact I quite look forward to my visits. They are a relaxing few hours that I can prepare Eyad’s training or write this Swimwatch story. And if I get bored, the emergency bell will bring any number of nurses running to save my life and relieve my boredom. .

Actually the nurses are incredible. They are an amazing international mix. There are several from the Philippines. Where would the New Zealand Health Service be without nurses from the Philippines? Let me tell you – no one steps out of line when an Apollo Drive nurse from the Philippines is on your case. There are two in particular. I’m not going to name them. I’m too scared to do that.

But let me tell you, there is no doubt about who is in charge. “David, if you don’t do what you’re told I could well increase the flow on this machine to 350.” When I’m struggling to handle a reading of 300 that threat works every time.

“David,” they say, “Alison is a lovely person. Do you treat her properly?” Clearly they think medical care extends to family counselling.

I see the population of the Philippines is 104.9 million. That means there are roughly 52 million females and 52 million males. Now there is a group of chaps I feel sorry for. If these nurses are anything to go by there must be 52 million Philippine blokes in desperate need of a male liberation movement.

Actually I’m being a little unkind. They are actually wonderful healthcare providers who go well beyond the call of duty. The other night I left the lights of my car on all day. When it was time to head for home the battery had died. As I sat waiting for the AA to arrive, two Philippine nurses stood in the freezing cold to keep their patient company.

Two weeks ago was the Apollo Drive clinic’s five year anniversary. A few minutes into my treatment Subway sandwiches were offered to each patient. Donald Trump can prattle on about the wonders of American health care – but I bet you’d struggle to get free Subways in an American hospital.

But there is more than Philippine nurses. There are several Indian nurses. They tend to be quieter than the Philippine version. It would be difficult for them to out-talk their Philippine mates. But the care they provide is just as professional and considerate. One lovely lady was looking for a swim school for her three children. I recommended the Millennium Institute Swim School. The children were enrolled and I’m told are making great progress.

Reception is staffed by a couple of born and bred NZ natives – at least I think they are. They do a huge job of getting patients by taxi to the clinic and home again. They also patiently listen to my stories of coaching Eyad and my despair at the antics of Swimming New Zealand. Patience is at a premium to do their job. They both have it in heaps.

The doctor in charge is from Ireland. She has the most wonderful Irish accent. I have a bad habit of listening to the accent rather than the words. I’m beginning to think she suspects I have a hearing problem. I am forever asking, “Sorry, could you say that again.” Once you get to seventy you can get away with that sort of thing.

We are a fortunate nation. The health care that looks after us is first class.  The staff members are a credit to their profession. Of course good health is important. No one wants to have a health problem. But if you do need care – the Waitemata Apollo Drive clinic is a bloody good place to be, and it’s a bundle of fun as well.

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