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Feature Article

Sprinter for the community

A new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter supplied to Te Whatu Ora (Health New Zealand) by Keith Andrews Whangārei will bring healthcare to the “most vulnerable and deprived” people across Northland. 

Named Te Pahi O Ngā Iwi (The People’s Bus), healthcare workers will use the Sprinter to provide a range of diagnostic, assessment and treatment services for people in the region’s mid and far north, including heart, vascular and eye examinations and scans.  

“It will benefit our most vulnerable and our most deprived to increase equity of care and to improve the patient and whānau experience and their health outcomes,” said Te Whatu Ora Te Tai Tokerau (Northland) Planned Care Initiative and Performance Manager Michaela Matich. 

The mobile health service, launched by Health Minister Andrew Little on 24 November 2022, is a fully equipped diagnostic clinic with a dual-purpose ultrasound scanner, computer, satellite dish, a bed and air condition. 

It will help bring services closer to people, improve health outcomes, reduce did-not-attend rate, cut waiting times, and help families with travel costs. 

“We know what a huge difference early diagnosis and interventions can make,” said Whangaroa Health Services’ Rural Outreach Health and Wellbeing Nurse Te-Warati Ututaonga-Pawa. 

“In Whangāroa, we are some distance from hospitals, and not everybody has access to reliable transport. Bringing the services closer to the people will improve health outcomes." 

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is a fully equipped diagnostic clinic

The highly customisable nature of the Sprinter, and its range of safety features, makes it an ideal choice for this type of application, said James Hudson-Owen, Mercedes-Benz Brand Manager at Keith Andrews. 

“As an adaptable, accessible and very reliable vehicle, Sprinter has a proven track record within the field of medical support services,” said Hudson-Owen.  

“St John Ambulance has employed Sprinter vans in its fleet for many years. The latest models have a wide range of advanced safety features, such as Active Brake Assist, Active Distance Assist and Lane Keeping Assist, which work to protect the life-saving medical teams and their patients travelling on board.”