FORTY contractors working with New Zealand’s fourth largest forest owner Ernslaw One, were the first to benefit from Turanga Health’s mobile forestry health checks yesterday [Tuesday 21 February].
The onsite workplace wellness programmes for forestry staff is making it easier for them to seek medical help while also taking better care of themselves, says Turanga Health coordinator Dallas Poi.
“The health checks are tailored to meet the needs of men and women working in an industry where it’s not always easy to slip away to see a nurse in the middle of the day.”
Ernslaw One Gisborne regional manager Iain McInnes said the health checks carried out at the Mangatu forest headquarters yesterday were well received by those who passed through. “We were really keen to have Turanga Health offer the service to our contracting staff. People are the most valuable asset in any company and so investing in the health of our workforce makes good business sense as well as being the right thing to do.”
Mr McInnes says a healthy and happy workforce is just as important as investing in maintaining buildings and equipment. “We’re working with some talented people and we want to make sure they are well. The onsite health check was a unique opportunity for our staff and we’re thrilled it’s going to be available to others working in the forestry industry.”
Turanga Health had its state-of-the-art mobile clinic in the Whatatutu hills all Tuesday afternoon. It was staffed by four nurses, a smoking cessation coach, and a kaiāwhina (community health worker).
Forestry crew warratah drivers, fallers, break out staff, machinery operators, and digger and truck drivers, all came through the health check clinic. The comprehensive health check was about more than just eating habits and exercise, says Ms Poi.
“The initial assessments, which take up to half an hour, looked at a forester’s age, gender, ethnicity, weight, family history, blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol levels, and diabetic and smoking status.” A person’s risk of developing heart problems in the next five years was also assessed. “People can be told they have a risk ranging from mild to very high and where appropriate were directed to their GP or given education.”
Medication, alcohol, anxiety and depression were also discussed during the private consultations. Female staff had the chance to talk about women’s health issues such as smears and breast checks.
Ms Poi says yesterday when the forestry workers stepped inside Turanga Health’s four-wheel-drive truck and saw it was a fully functional clinic room they were pleasantly surprised. “Turanga Health does whatever it takes” to get health care and support to workers. “Health services offered Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, don’t work for most primary industry staff which is why we take the services to the people on the roadside, or into the forest, any time of the day.”
Eastland Wood Council chief executive Prue Younger said the health checks are the result of a joint partnership between the wood council and Turanga Health which “aims to build a culture of health in the forestry industry.”
Ngati Porou Hauora nurses and support staff will help provide the mobile service when it’s taken to Ernslaw One contractors at Tokomaru Bay in March.
For more information contact: Dallas Poi, Turanga Health, (06) 869 0457.
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