Kaikoura quake response honoured

3 April 2017

The Kaikoura GPs awarded the 2017 Peter Snow Memorial Award paid tribute to the wider nursing and admin team who responded in the night and days following the devastating quake of 14 November 2016.

Dr Chris Hendry and Dr Andrea Judd were announced as winners of the award at the New Zealand Rural General Practice Network’s annual conference in Wellington for their "innovations to patient management under difficult circumstances" after the 14 November quake.

In accepting the award, Hendry paid tribute to the admin staff, district nurses and practice nurses who without being called turned up at the Kaikoura Healthcare Centre soon after the midnight earthquake. This was despite some staff having lost their homes. "With no communication these people just came into work and that enables us to work that much better.

"Without that much discussion we just split up and said ‘Right, you cover that patch, I’ll cover this patch'. You can’t do that if you don’t know the community well,” he said.

Among these staff was district nurse Deb Lawson, whose knowledge of the community's vulnerable people – not only where they lived but which was the best door to use – was invaluable on the night and days following. Hendry said she not only visited many of these people but also rescued several of them.

Dr Andrea Judd – who was out of town and had to be helicoptered back in to help her hard-hit community – said the first few weeks were "a bit of a blur" and thanked the Canterbury District Health Board for its support and passing on knowledge gained from the Canterbury quakes. She said there were daily and constant interactions between the District Council, Civil Defence, St John, district nursing and teams from Canterbury,” said Judd.

She said it was also "uplifting" how the rural doctors and nurses from around the country offered support and helping hands and knew how rural medicine worked.

The Peter Snow Memorial Award was set up to honour the life and work of former Tapanui GP Dr Peter Snow, whose life's work included contributing to the identification of chronic fatigue syndrome. Dr Snow passed away in March 2006.

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