Tō Waha team treats more than 300 people

More than 300 people, with dental pain, received free treatment at the Tō Waha event in Wairoa last week.

The event was a collaboration between Hawke’s Bay District Health Board, Wairoa Community Partnership Implementation Group, iwi, leaders, and other health providers to lift the wellbeing of whānau in Wairoa.

DHB spokesperson Patrick Le Geyt, Executive Director Māori Health, said the event exceeded expectations.

“It provided urgent dental care to whānau living with pain who could not afford to travel out of town to see a dentist as Wairoa was currently without a dental service for adults.

“The dentists, dental hygienists and other health professionals who volunteered their time went above and beyond to treat as many people as possible.”

Mr Le Geyt said the Tō Waha team booked 250 people in for treatment during the six-day event but managed to see an extra 57 people on the waiting list.

“It was a mammoth effort from the whānau whanui of the Wairoa community, local leaders and providers and the oral health voluntary team – notching up 290 dental treatments and 79 hygiene treatments. More than 300 teeth were pulled and 277 fillings given – preventing further extractions.”

Mr Le Geyt said the whānau ora approach, using whānau voice to inform how services were run was key to the success of Tō Waha and will help inform future oral health service design.

“It’s great that 307 people received treatment. We know there is more work to do in this community and the DHB will continue to support Wairoa to develop options for a long-term sustainable solution for dental care.”

Wairoa Mayor Craig Little said it was heart-warming to see the community come together and collaboratively ensure this service was provided.

“I sincerely acknowledge all those individuals, agencies and organisations, which made this event possible. Especially the voluntary dentists, dental assistants and hygienists, more than 30 in total, who gave up their week and travelled to Wairoa to bring improved health outcomes to our people.”

Mr Little acknowledged the financial contributions from Royston Health Trust, Princess Alexandra Medical Trust, Tremains, Māori Oral Health Quality Improvement Group and GRS Generators.

“This sponsorship contributed to making a real difference to the oral health of our whānau. People I spoke to described the service as life-changing, saying they felt relaxed and comfortable, were not judged and really benefitted from the after-care.”

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