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Servants Health Centre provides care to some of Dunedin’s most difficult-to-reach residents – people dealing with tough socio-economic circumstances who will often have literacy or comprehension issues.

Servants works hard to look out for the health of its 400 patients – including by promoting the National Bowel Screening Programme – and the results speak for themselves.

“More than half of our people have taken the bowel screening test,” says Sandy Gorman, Clinical Nurse Leader. “We take the time to sit with them and explain the Programme, to take away the fear of the unknown. They have the opportunity to ask questions and to learn that it’s not a difficult process to take the test.”

Because so many of Servants’ patients are visual learners, the team has created a bowel screening bulletin board with plenty of images to help share the bowel screening message.

Staff check in with patients to remind them about the testing, to confirm that they’ve received their test kits, and to help with appointments, follow-ups and recalls. Some patients even have their testing invitations and kits sent directly to the health centre.

“We’re very proactive – we have to be,” says Sandy. “And we’re fortunate that we can spend extra time with our people, which helps.”

All of Servants’ doctors and nurses are volunteers, and patients – who are all Community Services Card holders – do not pay to visit. Because of this, there isn’t the same time pressure as in conventional GP clinics.

The staff at Servants includes; doctors, nurses, receptionists, a counsellor, a podiatrist and patient advocates, plus several "tea and toast" servers, who are volunteers. This allows the patients, who are all Community Services Card holders, to get no-cost care and having a volunteer staff removes the time constraints seen in conventional GP clinics. 

As a result, Servants staff build trust and strong relationships with their patients. “Here, they know they’ll be looked after and treated with respect,” says Sandy.