Postcards from the edge #4

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This postcard, the 4th in the series, comes to us from Te Kuiti. Phillipa Cross is a Rural GP and Hospital registrar.


Life in Te Kuiti

Life (and the Corona virus) is something that gets in the way while I’ve been busy making plans. Imagine the fuss of work (I am a Rural hospital and GP Registrar in Te Kuiti.) Doing a paper, ramping up preparations for my StAMPS exam1, I’m mothering a toddler, cooking the dinner, worrying what the neighbours think about my un-pruned Roses and the state of the Lawn. Then one Sunday the world changed and Monday was a very different place.

The thing about the separation between Te Kuiti and Northern Italy being only a zoom chat away, is that the story of shifts filled with perpetual resus and death certificates seem like it can happen here tomorrow. Collectively this makes us scared, anxious, stressed. We lost sleep.

On that Sunday we met and made plans. We let go of our preferences to see patients in person, to examine them, to have that extra sense from their presence about what might be going on for them. We planned for testing, for treating, for the worst and for keeping our team safe.

On Monday our plans adjusted, to fit the space. The medical centre and the hospital collaborated, made easier by us being both GP and hospital doctor. We learned how to consult over the phone. The patients stayed away from us. We made flow charts for “what to do if…”

At midnight on Wednesday (during my overnight shift) New Zealand locked down.

The fear and the rumours spread, often with a vector of misunderstanding. The CBAC2 arrived. More meetings. We communicated. We supported each other.

On Thursday, on the way home, I felt lucky to be allowed to drive, lucky to be employed, disappointed to defer StAMPS, still mothering (and now without daycare), don’t care about the Roses, can’t do anything about the Lawn.

Now we wait for Ashley at 1 o’clock. We make arrangements to get groceries. We go for walks. We stand two meters away. We wear the PPE when out flow chart says we should. We stay safe. We’ll be glad if the COVID bus doesn’t stop in Te Kuiti.


  1. Structured assessment using multiple patient scenarios: Exit exam for the rural hospital training programme.↩︎
  2. Community based assessment centre↩︎

Main Street Te Kuiti before the 2019 muster. (Cancelled this year.)

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