Eight years ago, and thanks to the support of our donors, Plunket launched new mobile clinics – ‘clinics on wheels’ designed to reach out to families who, for any number of reasons, weren’t accessing child health checks or preferred not to be visited at home.
The aim was to ensure that, no matter what their circumstances, babies and children could get the checks and care they needed, and parents and caregivers could access support, information and advice.
Today the mobile clinic is an increasingly important part of the Plunket service; we now have four on the road, covering Northland, Waitamata, Auckland City and and Counties Manukau. Venturing out most days, the clinics are equipped with essential charts and tools, information for families, and toys, toothbrushes and toothpaste for the children. There’s also a small stock of donated clothing for children and families in particular need.
Not surprisingly, the clinics focus on areas most in need of their services, where incomes are low and living standards sometimes challenging for children’s needs. More often than not the nurses target particular areas or streets, or individual households where families have missed appointments or previous clinic visits. If no-one’s home, they’ll keep coming back.
It’s an unfortunate fact that the need for mobile clinics is growing, with three other areas already asking for their own. Ideally we’d like more clinics on the road, but with costs of $55,000 for each fit-out and around $5,000 a year each in maintenance, they don’t come cheap.