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Southland Hospital’s refurbished oral health clinics blessed

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Two clinics at Southland Hospital’s busy Oral Health Unit that have been completely refurbished with new chairs and equipment, were blessed on Friday morning and are ready to once again receive patients.

The work, which began in March, was delayed by the COVID-19 lockdown, and staff are delighted that it is now complete.

The Oral Health Unit, which has 5,200 patient visits each year, provides an emergency dental service and treats hospital in-patients who are medically or physically compromised, plus trauma patients from the Emergency Department.

Dental Public Health Specialist, Tim Mackay said the new equipment included new chairs that would be easier for patients with limited mobility, new x-ray equipment, and televisions on the ceiling to occupy children while they undergo dental treatment.  The new equipment should last the service for the next 15-20 years, he said.

However, he emphasised this was the “ambulance at the bottom of the cliff”, and the need for preventative work in the community, so that people were better equipped to keep their teeth healthy.

The blessing for the refurbished clinics, and the staff who work in them, was led by Southern DHB Kaumatua Mohi Timoko.

The Kaumatua reflected that refurbishment of the two clinics was like giving them new life.  “However, without people a room has no purpose, and by adding people it gives purpose to the room.”

Mr Timoko reminisced about his first visits to a school dental clinic in the late 1940s/early 1950s – particularly the drill, which was operated by a foot pedal, and the changes since those times.

He encouraged and thanked the Oral Heath staff for the work they do, saying teeth are one of the most important structures in the human body and a very important part of our health and wellbeing.