Speech at the opening of the new CAT scanner facility Hawke's Bay Hospital

  • Rick Barker
Community and Voluntary Sector

Good Evening. I must say what a pleasure it is to be here, both to live here and to open this stunning, CAT scanner

My friend and colleague, Annette King is not so lucky, as she only qualifies for half by living in the electorate but she can't make it today and sends her apologies and best wishes to you all.

Hawke's Bay Hospital is very fortunate to have this new hi-tech equipment. Today is a proud day for the community and particularly for Mrs Leonora Mc Cormack for her gift to the citizens of Hawke’s Bay.

It is a privilege to be invited here today to be at the official opening of this new 'state of the art' CAT scanner and to be able to publicly acknowledge this life saving gift from the Weem Trust. This gift has been noticed outside of our region and the Health Minister Annette King has also asked me to pass on her gratitude to you Mrs Mc Cormack, for this gift.

It is quite remarkable, that a couple who have budgeted and worked so hard throughout their lives, can now be so generous with such hard earned money. It is so often that people who have known less, can give more.

This gift to the hospital is in the spirit of John F Kennedy's challenge to America in his inaugural speech when he said: "And so, my fellow American’s, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what can you do for your country."

Kennedy inspired a generation with a belief of a better future in a world troubled by many threats, including that of nuclear war. Although the dream began to die with him, the belief of a better tomorrow lingers on in a still troubled world.

It is rare for an individual to be able to shape the world around them, or even national events, but this does not stop those who keenly seek to make the world a better place, from diligently applying themselves to influence the circumstance they live in.

These people do not measure worth in dollars - they measure it in public good. This yardstick of measuring how much one contributes to their community is a powerful guide. The McCormacks are people of that nature – they understand the importance of sharing and passing on resources, time and help when they can.

In receiving the gift of the CAT Scanner we all appreciate that this has been at their personal expense, that they have chosen to forgo luxuries or expense so that they spend their money on the people of Hawke’s Bay.

This machinery will save lives. It will dramatically speed up the CAT process and greatly reduce the stress of undergoing a scan. Hawke's Bay now has the best CAT equipment available and the community is very grateful.

I understand that Leonora is a modest woman who doesn't seek publicity at all but I publicly wish to thank her personally for making this day happen. I am thanking you on behalf of Hawke's Bay people.

I know that you are grateful for the neighbourliness you have experienced on your farm in Patoka, but what you have given to the people of Hawke's Bay today is extremely generous. I imagine your late husband will be beaming down at you with pride today. I want to thank him also, for without both of you – working together - this would not have happened.

I also have to thank the support crew. To Sean Skea (Skay), Head of Radiology who has been the driving force behind getting this new CT scanner installed. His commitment and passion for the technology, and his patients are outstanding.

Thank you to Vernon Picone (Pik ony)Assistant Manager & CT manager, who has coordinated all the training and continues to do all the training for the staff using the CT.

Thanks to the team from Philips who supplied the scanner, and pulled out all the stops to have it installed and up and running over a weekend.

I would like to acknowledge those present today:

-David Stanaway - NZ Manager
-Graeme Drake - Account Manager X-Ray
-Bernie Power - Account Manager - CT

Keeping up with new science and technology is something innovative and inventive kiwis are proud of and the government is backing that up by investing in technology and research. We are also directly putting record amounts into healthcare and spend a fifth of government expenditure on health services.

That’s a $1 out of every $5 dollars that the government takes in tax.

Health spending has gone up by 50 per cent since the Government came into office and recently the Hawke's Bay DHB received a $12 million cash injection to fund things like elective services, pharmaceutical and laboratory testing, new teaching initiatives and for palliative care, public health and diabetes.

I would like to think that we were 50% healthier for this, but sadly that’s not the public perception.

While New Zealanders do deserve top of the range services and resources, along with this goes a government commitment to deal with health issues before the edge of the cliff - not later on. This approach will not only save the health service a great deal of money, but mean that New Zealanders have a better quality of life.

The Primary Health Care Organistions which offer cheaper 'one stop shop' healthcare, operate with a preventative approach to ill health. They have a strong focus on good nutrition: not smoking and doing exercise as a start on the right track to wellbeing. The PHOs philosophy is for their patients to keep in regular contact and to keep with one practice, so all aspects of their healthcare can be checked and then the chance of small problems growing into bigger problems is far less because of early intervention.

An excellent example of preventative healthcare through diet and education is, of course, diabetes. A cornerstone of efforts to reduce diabetes in New Zealand is the Get Checked programme, allowing people with diabetes to receive a free annual check with their GP or nurse. In 2003, 61,246 people with diabetes received a free annual check, an increase of 96 percent since 2001.

There are many aspects of life that lead to healthy communities. We are experiencing very low unemployment and strong economic growth and dropping crime rates. The government has directly put in the social dividend of a strong economy this year and launched the Family Package that gives those that need it most assistance to raise a family and work.

These things help build stronger communities. And there is no doubt that good quality housing, for example, leads to better health just as does a good diet. But even if we took and acted on all of the expert advice of how to take care of ourselves best, things would still go wrong. We would still need hospital care and with the advances of science this is getting more and more sophisticated. Each new procedure is usually in addition to what is already being done.

Living in a small community in a small country we will always struggle to have the best of everything, but that doesn’t stop us dreaming. While some of us have been dreaming others have been doing something about it.

We in Hawke’s Bay are both lucky and appreciative to have the McCormack’s living among us. I hope they are an inspiration to another generation with this fabulous Christmas present for the people of Hawke’s Bay.

There is no doubt that Mrs McCormick and to your late husband Tom thought of what you could do for your country and we are grateful.

Again thank you