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Meet the team leading our clinical programmes


In our new draft strategic plan we have four priority clinical programmes - get to know the leads and what their programmes are about.

Our clinical programmes sit within regional and network services, led by general manager Andrew Swanson-Dobbs. Puamiria Maaka, operations manager, oversees the programme leads for the four areas.


Left to right: Amanda Bradley - Mentally Well lead, Tracy Jackson -  Starting Well lead, Sally Newell - Physically Well lead, Selena Batt -  Staying Well lead and Puamiria Maaka - operations manager.

Starting Well

Tracy Jackson started with Pinnacle MHN in October. She has spent 24 years as a nurse, primarily in child and youth health. Tracy has worked in hospital and community settings up and down New Zealand, as well as short stints as a pharmaceutical rep and nursing in a youth health setting in Australia. 

Recently returned to the Waikato, Tracy was particularly attracted to this role as it fits well with her experience, while also offering her a chance to try something new - this is her first chance to work in primary care.

Tracy loves to feel she is making a difference with the work she does, and she brings a tonne of passion to the role. "I love how collaborative this role is, to make it work - to really get stuff happening - we need to work across the sector and beyond into things like education," says Tracy.

"I see the Starting Well programme as not only giving children the best start in life, but enabling them to grow into healthy adults. We provide and enable opportunities for children and young people to be immunised and screened, and accessibility to services we can refer to."

"There are children missing out so the programme is there to give everyone a fair start, we want to make sure everyone gets what they need. Every child should have the opportunity to access all of their entitlements."

Starting Well is a broad programme, working with children, youth, their whānau, and other services supporting them to have great health now and into the future. 

"Issues are really different across the age range we work with - so as a team we need to be really mindful and always keep age and context in mind when we think about designing our services."

Physically Well

Sally Newell is a well-known face of Pinnacle MHN, having been a part of the team since 2014. Prior to joining us she spent 22 years with Waikato DHB. Sally has spent all of her working life in health, having gone straight from school into a career in nursing.

Sally moved from the DHB environment to primary care as she wanted a chance to be where it all starts.

"Initially it was strange to go from a clinical role with patients to making decisions on how care is delivered in the community. But I wanted a chance to stop issues developing into problems," says Sally.

The Physically Well programme exists to provide support to general practice for their patients with long term conditions.

"When you have patients with long term conditions it isn't like you can just tick the box and call it done, it requires ongoing engagement."

While sometimes it sounds easy, it is actually really hard. We all know there are lifestyle choices we should make - but don't always. Healthy lifestyle habits are hard to do forever - day in, day out. People with chronic conditions can become blasé - they can get a bit immune to their symptoms.

"At the hospital I often saw people who had been quite sick for a while. But it was only once they wound up in hospital for treatment they realised they'd been living that way for so long, they'd made it their new normal," says Sally.

One of the challenges in health now is that people are living longer, but getting sicker. Therefore the threshold to secondary is higher and the acuity of patients being managed in primary care is rising.

"In primary care people really need to be a jack of all trades. GPs and nurses have to work across the range of health conditions and are asked to flip their brains from one condition to the next all day. Increasing acuity means we need to have higher levels of skill in our sector, so upskilling is a big part of the programme.

"The other thing we're working on is changing how we are funded. Often contracts define quite a narrow range of service delivery options - but we know we need to innovate to help keep up with the increased demand."

Mentally Well

Amanda Bradley is another new face to the team, having started in mid-November. She has 20 years' experience in the mental health sector. She trained in applied mental health and psychotherapy. Amanda has an extensive background in the NGO sector - this is her first primary care role.

Prior to working in mental health Amanda was in the world of human resources, specialising in recruitment within the financial sector. She was attracted to working in mental health as this is her passion and she aims to create change and make a difference - no matter how big or small.

"The need is just so incredibly high and there are many challenges - such as being able to reach high priority groups such as Māori, Pacific and youth," says Amanda.

"Like the Physically Well programme we also need suitable and different funding mechanisms, ones that allow for a bit of creativity in service delivery as there isn't a one size fits all approach. I am a firm believer in the 'any door is the right door' approach, and having a range of services available."

It's common for New Zealanders to experience a mental health problem during their lifetime. The rate is now estimated about one in five will experience a serious mood disorder at some point in their life. And in 2016 a record number of people accessed specialist mental health and addiction services.[1]

Person-centred mental health and addiction care and support services that integrate across the health and social sectors are vital. Pinnacle MHN is supporting our providers to develop the capability and capacity to work this way.

"Coming up with new ways to deliver services that enable better access and really meet the need is key. I'd like to see more peer work and interventions that start earlier."

"I'm excited to be leading the Mentally Well programme - but I'm also excited to be part of the team and able to put a mental health lens across all we do. As a group of leads we work very collaboratively which is great, it really supports things like the Equally Well movement."

Staying Well

Selena Batt joined the team five months ago. With a background in the energy sector, this is her first job in health. She is thriving in an environment where people are passionate about working towards 'the greater good' instead of chasing profit and pleasing shareholders.  

"In my previous role I'd been through six restructures in four years and it was time to step back and think about what I really wanted to do. I felt disengaged with my Māori side and that didn't sit well with me - I really wanted to work with or for Māori," reflects Selena.

"I heard of the opportunity at Pinnacle MHN and even though I didn't have the clinical background I immediately wanted it. As an ex-smoker I really identified with the role and I knew I had a lot of transferrable skills to bring to it. At the interview I was really impressed with the people and the programme. It was a big leap out of my safe zone, but I knew this role would tick the boxes for me. It's been challenging, but really enjoyable."

Preventing disease is where we gain the most for our communities. We also need to address inequities in access and outcomes for prevention programmes.

"There are two focuses in the Staying Well programme currently, with an emphasis on some key priority groups, namely Māori, Pacific and Asian people," says Selena.

"The stop smoking service is working towards the national goal of a Smokefree Aotearoa 2025. It's a constant challenge to continue getting enrolments into the programme, but we're having great success with those who do enrol - the programme works.

"We are also getting up and running with a support to screening programme, which is about engaging woman and helping them overcome barriers, using community outreach to find them and get them screened.

"It's very rewarding work - and just the change of pace I was looking for."

Find out more about our programmes in our draft strategy - we're consulting on it now. To obtain a copy please email Pinnacle MHN senior administrator Candice Snijman: Candice.Snijman@pinnacle.health.nz.  Following consultation the plan will be finalised in February 2018.

[1] https://www.health.govt.nz/publication/office-director-mental-health-annual-report-2016

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