Surgical workshop has advice from specialist

Monday September 17, 2018 Written by Published in Local
Dr Mairi Wallace helps midwife Angelina Nooroa with her suturing technique at a surgical workshop at Rarotonga Hospital on Saturday morning. 18091606 Dr Mairi Wallace helps midwife Angelina Nooroa with her suturing technique at a surgical workshop at Rarotonga Hospital on Saturday morning. 18091606

Specialist New Zealand gynaecologist Dr Mairi Wallace and anaesthetist Dr Michael Kalkoff last week conducted surgery on gynaecology patients at Rarotonga Hospital


Dr Wallace, who is based in Northland, also conducted a surgical workshop for midwives at Rarotonga Hospital on Saturday morning.

She has a special interest in urogynaecology (female bladders) and has been conducting clinics and operating at Rarotonga Hospital since 2009. This year was her seventh mission to Rarotonga.

“The reason for my visits is to treat women with urinary incontinence and vaginal prolapse - embarrassing conditions which most women don’t want to talk about,” she said. 

“Patients are first seen at gynaecology outpatients’ clinic and seen by the doctors there.

“If the doctors on Rarotonga are unable to treat the patients or they believe a woman needs surgery she gets an appointment to see me when I get to Rarotonga.

Also visiting was physiotherapist Shelley Solomon who with Dr Wallace conducted a clinic all day on Friday, September 7.

Dr Wallace then operated, with Dr Kalkoff as her anaesthetist, from Monday to Thursday of last week.

In this time Solomon, a physiotherapist with specialist training in the pelvic floor including expertise in treating incontinence and pelvic pain, treated many women in an outpatients’ clinic, Dr Wallace said.

“Her main task however is to help the women in the wards. She needs to ensure their bladders are working properly prior to discharge and that they understand about rehabilitation post-operation.

“To be able to do this surgery I require expensive equipment. This was kindly donated by Johnson & Johnson, Boston Scientific, REM Systems, Allan Brady and Kensington Hospital in Northland, New Zealand.

Dr Wallace said the other part of her mission, running a surgical workshop for midwives was the brainchild of Drs Jackie Smallridge and Louise Tomlinson from Auckland.

“With help from the Pacific Society of Reproductive Health over the last five years, workshops have been held in Samoa, Fiji and Vanuatu and last year in the Cook Islands.

“Childbirth can be damaging to women, resulting in them needing many stitches and (leaving) them struggling to recover from the birth.

“If they don’t heal properly this can lead to long term bowel, bladder and sexual problems. The idea of the workshops is to help midwives to learn safe delivery and suturing techniques.

“This year my focus was in teaching more senior midwives so that they can then teach other less experienced midwives.

“Thanks to the generosity Medical Aid Abroad, the doctors involved with the programme in Auckland, and their friends and relatives, I was able to leave eight sets of instruments and boxes of sutures for the maternity unit at Rarotonga Hospital, some of which will be flown across to Aitutaki.”           


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