Two receive annual rural health award

Two worthy recipients shared the 2013 Peter Snow Memorial Award presented at the Network’s Rotorua conference in March.

They were Moerewa-based GP Graeme Fenton and Hamilton-based New Zealand Institute of Rural Health CEO Robin Steed.

In accepting the award an ever-humble Dr Fenton paid tribute to all those who have supported him over the years including his wife Joan. “You can achieve great things, especially with the help of others. This award is a reflection of the whole rural health sector working together and supporting each other to improve the health of rural communities.”

Robin Steed says receiving the award is “an honour”.

“It is a humbling experience to be acknowledged in this way by one’s peers. I have been fortunate to work in such a challenging and rewarding sector of health and look forward to continuing my work in rural health,” she says.

Both Dr Fenton and Ms Steed were nominated under the “Innovation or Service” category which recognises their “outstanding service to rural general practice and to rural communities for many years, and their endless enthusiasm and drive in nursing and education”.

The nominations noted that:

“Graeme has dedicated his professional life to the health and well-being of rural communities in the Far North, is well respected by Iwi and Hapuu, held leading positions in the multiple changes in the health sector and is a former Board member of the New Zealand Rural General Practice Network.”

“Robin has worked tirelessly to develop and implement the internal structure of the New Zealand Institute of Rural Health, supported rural communities, federations, agencies, health services and government health authorities to review and redesign the services for the community. Robin is willing to explore creative and innovative opportunities for closer collaboration with other like-minded organisations to strengthen the position for rural communities and the health professionals who choose to work and live in rural New Zealand.”

Graeme established Moerewa Medical Services in Northland in 1967 and has looked after generations of families. He was made a Distinguished Fellow of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners in September 2011. He served on the RHA Board in 1997 and was Director of the Institute of Rural Health from 2000-2001.  He established the Northern Rural General Practice Consortium and has served as Deputy Chair of the Te Tai Tokerau PHO Board since 2003.  He has also been involved in improvements to the after-hours service in the Mid-North and has tirelessly worked in the background to improve access to healthcare for rural communities.

Training as a nurse in Northland and early work experience in small district hospitals and communities was the genesis of a career-long interest in rural health for Robin. A move to work with Health Waikato with responsibility for community-based services and rural hospitals further matured interest and expertise in the field of rural health.

Robin’s studies at the University of Waikato in the Masters of Business Administration programme provided the opportunity to examine the inter-relationships between health, business, social and political sectors and the impact these have on rural health in New Zealand.

Robin received valuable insight into rural health issues through networking at a national level on projects of professional development of the rural workforce, the health of rural populations, palliative care strategies and the cost of personal health services.