Rural hospitals work closely with rural general practices, allied health and other clinical and social support services to improve the health and wellbeing of the rural communities we live and work with.
We also work closely with each other, often sharing staffing, information and systems that enhance the way we provide services. Our annual Rural Hospital Summit brings us together to discuss common issues and solutions. Many of us participate in the recruitment, education and training of our rural health workforce. We contribute to research and initiatives that enhance the body of knowledge about the role of rural hospitals in improving rural health outcomes.
Through the work we do and our relationships, locally, regionally and nationally, we bring an informed and united rural hospital perspective to Hauora Taiwhenua.
Through Hauora Taiwhenua, we endeavour to influence government policy and the implementation of Governments Health Reforms – particularly those that will enable us to contribute to equitable health outcomes for our rural communities.
Our work also involves promoting and supporting the role of rural hospitals in the recruitment, education and training of the rural hospital workforce.
Ray Anton holds a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from the University of California at Berkeley and a Masters Degree in Management from the University of Redlands. Ray has been CEO of Clutha Health First since 2001, a rural hospital and larger General Practice. He has been a member of the Network Committee as treasurer, and he was one of founders of the New Zealand Rural Hospital Network which is now a Chapter of Hauora Taiwhenua. Ray’s first six years in New Zealand were spent as the strategic planner and quality manager for the Otago DHB and before that worked as a consultant for KPMG Peat Marwick in the United States, Middle East and New Zealand.
I have been a nurse for 47 years. It is a career that has been varied, challenging and utterly rewarding. I have worked in urban settings, and rural New Zealand. From tertiary/quaternary hospitals to remote rural hospitals, I have been privileged to work with nurses and other healthcare professionals who share my passion for providing quality healthcare. The past 15 years my focus has been rural New Zealand. My jobs included nursing leadership roles and latterly management roles.
I joined the Rural Hospital Network executive team, to provide a nursing voice in this national organisation. I learned that rural nurses belonged to various organisations – but these focussed on the nursing profession rather than the challenges of nursing in a rural environment. Some nurses participated in the Rural GP Network. This organisation provided leadership in the rural health space, but was strongly primary healthcare focussed at that time. So rural hospital nurses didn’t identify with the organisation.
Eventually an opportunity arose for a group of like minded rural nurses, to establish a network for all rural nurses to connect. It differs from other organisations in that it has non financial membership, it connects to rural nurses across New Zealand via it’s Facebook presence and its website. An executive has been established to champion projects and provide leadership. We have deliberately tried to include nurses throughout Aotearoa working in a variety of areas. Our aim is inclusion and to improve the profile and support of rural nurses.
I live in Central Otago so have strong links rurally throughout the lower South Island. However, through Rural Nurses NZ, I feel part of a larger whanau of rural healthcare professionals, particularly nurses, and these connections remind me constantly of all that rural people have in common. Together we have more chance to improve support for rural nurses and therefore improve the healthcare that is provided to our rural communities.