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PACMAT deploys scoping team to cyclone-hit Wairoa; support continues in Hawke's Bay and Gisborne
Updates / News , 1 Mar 23
The Pasifika Medical Association's (PMA) Medical Assistance team (PACMAT) has deployed a small scoping team to Wairoa today to assess the needs of RSE workers in the area. This comes after the town was one of the hardest hit areas during Cyclone Gabrielle, and further devastated with the latest downpour of floods.

PMA Chief Executive, Debbie Sorensen, says PACMAT will continue to respond when there is a call for help.   

"Our team is already on the ground in Napier and Gisborne working closely with local agencies, organisations, community, and RSE employers. They have been hard at work setting up psycho-education sessions and medical clinics with hundreds of RSE workers in those areas.  

We know that there are a cohort of Pacific RSE workers in Wairoa, so our main priority is to assess their needs and get a better understanding as to whether we need to send a full PACMAT team to the area to provide medical, psychosocial and mental health support."  

In the Hawke's Bay and Gisborne, PACMAT have continued their support, providing medical checks and running group psycho-education sessions with RSE workers, church groups and the local community. Since being deployed, they have supported 787 individuals in Hawke's Bay; of these are 585 RSE workers, and 206 individuals in Gisborne; of these are 179 RSE workers.   

"There has been a large number of individuals supported with a mental health check as well as a GP medical check as we expected. The floods have left a lot of them with skin infections and respiratory issues, so our medical team have been thorough in their consultations and ensured they receive the appropriate care. 

The opportunity to engage with people in their own language has also built trust and provided a sense of comfort for the workers and community. Recently our team facilitated a group psycho-education session to the EFKS Napier church completely in Samoan, which was met with positive engagement,” Sorensen says. 

Minister for Whānau Ora, Hon. Peeni Henare and Minister for Māori Development, Hon. Willie Jackson, visited the team this week in Flaxmere, where they had set up a community clinic alongside local agencies and partners to provide medical, mental health and welfare support for RSE workers and the wider community.   

PACMAT Psychosocial Lead, Amanaki Misa, says that through their sessions and one on one checks in Gisborne, the needs presented amongst RSE workers have ranged from both mental health and medical needs.  

"Some of the mental health issues identified amongst workers include anxiety, stress and PTSD. Our mental health team continue to work closely with these individuals, ensuring that they are receiving the most appropriate forms of support."