The Palms Medical Centre Limited has been providing quality medical care to the residents of and visitors to Palmerston North and the surrounding regions of the lower North Island for nearly 25 years. The practice started out as ‘The Doctors’ and was located next to Pak-n-Save in Ferguson Street. In 2006 the practice relocated to a purpose-built premise at the site of the old Phoenix Garden Centre, 445 Ferguson Street, Palmerston North, and become known as The Palms Medical Centre. The visionary concept of providing a centrally located, one-stop health shop where a welcoming Community GP Centre and Urgent Care Centre is located next door to a pharmacy, x-ray, ultrasound, dental, physiotherapy, specialists, complete with a relaxing café and over 150 carparks was pioneering at the time.
In 2006, as well as changing location, the practice became a member of the nationwide Radius, and then the Green Cross Medical groups. In 2018 following recognition that sufficient talent and resources existed within the organisation itself, the Palms made the strategic decision to become truly independent from national operators, thus began a new era of locally–owned innovative patient-focused clinical care.
For many years, The Palms has continued to accept new enrolments, employing 18 full-time and part-time doctors, a prescribing nurse, and over twenty full-time and part-time nurses, as well as a small of team of radiologists. Patients are assigned to a doctor, of their own choice. This approach provides a higher level of continuity of care, than when patients are randomly-allocated to GPs.
Currently over 17,300 patients are enrolled at the Palms and is considered unique in that the Palms boast having a patient population with the largest proportion of children, Maori, Pacifica and refugee patients within the Central DHB region. Fortunately, our culturally diverse staff can speak 17 different languages. Together, our experienced team of clinicians provide over 50,000 routine patient consultations and 35,000 Urgent Care consultations, 20,000 nurse consultations per year, plus over 20,000 immunisations.
It is surprising that although the Palms has been providing comprehensive Urgent Care for many years, large numbers are still unaware that our fully equipped Urgent Care Centre, ACC accredited complete with the latest X-ray equipment, is open between 8am and 8pm, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year. The Urgent Care Centre is open to all, enrolled, casual, and visitors alike. Wait times are a fraction of those experienced at the PN Hospital’s ED. The Palms works in close collaboration with St John’s wherever appropriate to redirect patients away from the PN Hospital’s overcrowded ED.
Together with regular educational workshops for diabetic and pre-diabetic patients run by the Diabetic Trust, The Palms also runs over 12 regular nurse-led clinics, including women’s health, child health and vaccination, long-term conditions, asthma and eczema, diabetes, dietician, and smoking cessation. The Palms also runs an afterhours Whānua Ora family clinic on Saturdays, between 10am and 2pm, to enable those working hard during the week and busy families to attend to all their medical needs together as a family.
The Palms recognised that arranging transport to access medical advice was a barrier for some, establishing a free Highbury Community Clinic held Monday nights, 6pm to 7.30pm in conjunction with the Highbury Community Churches’ free dinners. This clinic is available to all residents of the Highbury community and is situated at the Te Wakahuia Manawatu Trust premises on the corner of Pembroke St and Highbury Avenue, in Palmerston North across from the Legacy Church.
Over the past few years, management and our dedicated team has worked hard to better utilise new technology and improve our workflow, systems and processes to aligning appointments, repeat prescriptions, recalls and support services reducing the inconvenience and cost associated with frequent patient visits. Patients have been encouraged to use the patient portal, Manage My Health, which provides quick, easy access to patients’ medical records, including results, medications, allergies, immunisations. The Patient Portal is also a quick and easy way for patients to communicate with the practice and to book appointments. These initiatives have meant that the patient appointment wait times at The Palms has been greatly reduced to days rather than weeks, especially during winter’s high demand.
The Palms continues to be a leading force within the health sector, being one of the first to introduce a revolutionary cloud-based Patient Management System, Indici, which offers fast, secure patient communications and even greater operational efficiencies through the adoption of the latest in 21st Century technology. This new technology will enable The Palms in the near future to provide phone and virtual consultations, as well as providing a platform upon which to develop new patient support services capable of reaching those with limited access to medical services and provide medical support to those in isolated rural communities. Patients currently registered to the Patient Portal, Manage My Health, will be sent a message introducing MyIndici, the new improved Patient Portal, which has all the same features as Manage My Health, plus a load of other useful features. Management ask that patients be aware that staff will be undergoing training in the new Patient Management System as from Monday 26th November 2018.
The Palms has adopted a number of proactive innovative approaches to dealing with patients with long-term conditions, including developing ways for our patients to better manage their own health. The Palms is particularly proud of the marked improvement in patient health outcomes, with a marked reduction in avoidable ED and hospital admissions. As well as these improved health outcomes for our patients, there has been a marked reduction in doctor and nurse workloads and stress levels. The team at The Palm is committed to providing the highest quality health services for our patients, helping them get well, stay well, and live well.