Updates from the Practice Team


Tawa Medical Centre's Christmas Hours

Dec 21 2018


Christmas Hours

Open Monday 24th December

Closed Tuesday 25th December Christmas Day

Closed Wednesday 26th December Boxing Day

Open Thursday 27th December

Open Friday 28th December

Open Monday 31st December

Closed Tuesday 1st January 2019 New Year’s Day

Closed Wednesday 2nd January 2019

Open Thursday 3rd January 2019

Open Friday 4th January 2019


For Urgent Out of Hours Care.

Kenepuru Accident & Medical Clinic

Raiha Street, Porirua.

Phone 918 2300



Tawa's Christmas Newsletter

Dec 21 2018


With another year drawing to a close we would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas, safe travels and good health for the future.

We are open over the holiday period except for the Stat holidays –both surgeries will have limited appointments available.    If you are sick out of our normal opening hours please remember you can ring health line on 0800 611 116 or attend Kenepuru Afterhours ph 918 2300.


We have had some staff changes at Tawa.  We farewell our most senior Director Dr Kevin Fitzsimons, to full retirement after 37 years of being with Tawa.   He will be greatly missed, we wish him a long and happy retirement we are sure he will enjoy being able to play a round of golf on any sunny day he chooses.

 We also farewell Dr Sarah Li.   We wish her well for the future and would like to thank her for her   time with us at both surgeries.

We recently attended the wedding of our nurse Natasha Willoughby to Joel.    She has taken his name and is now Natasha Robertson.    We wish them every happiness for a long healthy married life together.

At this time of year we have different health needs so here are a few reminders on how to take care of yourself and your family.


While the sun is our friend in raising our Vitamin D levels we only need 10 minutes of early morning and late afternoon sun on our bare skin to raise our levels sufficiently. If you’re out in the sun it’s important to remember to slip slop slap and now add on wrap and sip.

Slip on a shirt with long sleeves

Slip into the shade of a tree or umbrella –check the umbrella has some UV protection

Slop on sunscreen

Slap on a hat

Wrap your eyes and your children’s with some shades

Sip on some water –keep hydrated

Food preparation

It is important to remember to wash your hands before preparing food (and those of your little helpers) remember if you have had diarrhoea or vomiting stay away from preparing food for others

Ensure you use different chopping boards for different foods. Keep raw meats separate from other foods.

Cover with glad wrap or in a container with a lid if storing leftovers in the fridge.

Be careful when reheating food that you make it hot enough.

If you are pregnant or someone in your family is, ensure you know what is OK to eat and avoid the processed, undercooked and raw meats, and fish/shellfish.

Avoid raw eggs which you may find in eggnog

Organ meat

Unwashed produce and raw sprouts

These foods may contain bacteria which is harmful to mother and baby.

Remember this motto when assessing food” if in doubt –throw it out

 Diarrhoea and Vomiting

If you are one of the unfortunates that does succumb to  gastroenteritis, try and isolate yourself from other family members, especially if they are susceptible but also remember for some particularly the very young and old they can become unwell quite fast so if you are worried about their condition /seek medical attention early for the very young and very frail or if dehydration is indicated they should be seen the same day.  Any concerns remember health line are only a call away.

For the very young watch the nappy –is it still wet, are you still needing to change it often-if not seek medical attention.

If you can, use a different toilet.

Wash your hands after toileting and before meals and any other time they are deemed dirty.

Use your own hand towel to dry your hands or use hand sanitiser.

Ensure you maintain good hygiene

If vomiting have small sips of fluids (10-20mls only) every 5-10 mins. Do not worry about food for 4-6 hours –once you restart food avoid dairy and fatty foods.

Diarrhoea –encourage fluids –one glass for each loose motion -stay on bland diet for 2-3 days after diarrhoea stops.

If diarrhoea lasts more than 3 days but you are otherwise well you should see Dr for review.

Fluids to give

If breastfeeding child is unwell you can continue to breastfeed them.  Make sure you keep your own fluids and hygiene up.

Diluted fruit juice cordial or non-diet fizzy drinks –dilute to 4 parts water.

Electrolyte drinks –PowerAde, pedialtye, gastrolyte

Or you can make your own ¼ to 1 tsp salt and 8 tsp sugar to 1 litre of water preferably boiled and cooled.


Many of you will have noticed a drop in the fees you are being charged from December 1st this year.   This applies to those with Community Services cards-please ensure if you have one we have your number loaded into our system to ensure you receive maximum benefit.


We will be making some changes at both surgeries in 2019 with a new phone system, Doctors starting to triage urgent calls for a few minutes in the morning and some new nurse led initiatives which will envelop Advanced Care plans and Long term conditions into one package.  We are hoping to increase the number of patients on Manage My Health.

We will be putting out a more detailed newsletter informing you when these changes are to take place once plans and systems have been finalised.


From us all at Linden Surgery and Tawa Medical Centre we wish you a

                 Meri Kirihimete me te Hape Nū Ia” 


It’s ok (not) to be ok

Oct 18 2018

 berniekyne  Uncategorized  October 9, 2018 8 Minutes

This week is mental health awareness week and it’s got me thinking a little bit about my own thoughts, feelings and experiences around mental health. I’ve kind of alluded to mental health in a few of my other blogs and it is quite central to a lot of my ideas and things that I’ve been thinking about over the past few months. (Disclaimer: I’m not a mental health expert nor do I claim to be, these are just my thoughts and not intended to be medical advice!)

I like to think of mental health as a spectrum, and I believe that everyone is always at some point on that spectrum. Sometimes we only stop to consider our mental health when it slips down the spectrum and starts to affect us in negative ways, but the truth is that it is always there, we all have a brain, so we all have mental health. Therefore I think we should all be concerned and invested in learning and understanding mental health and how to take care of ourselves and others.

How many times have we heard it said, “it’s ok not to be ok”? It’s become the catch phrase for mental health in our country. And I want to say first and foremost that I totally agree and support that it is ok not to be ok. But I also want to challenge that we say it with meaning behind it. That we stop saying “it’s ok not to be ok” but then continue to treat people differently, holding them at arm’s length, or judging them for not being ok. I think it has become such throw around language that we don’t actually realise what we are saying sometimes. When someone opens up to you, makes themselves vulnerable and explains their struggles, that is often a cry for help. When you say “it’s ok not to be ok”, you are actually (hopefully) saying, what you are experiencing is normal, and although it is difficult, you are doing ok, you will be ok, and I will support you. You are saying I don’t judge you. I don’t think less of you. I don’t see it as a weakness. There isn’t something “wrong” with you. You aren’t broken beyond repair. Its part of the human journey. It’s ok.

While I have never actually had a diagnosis of a mental illness and so I can’t speak for that and the no doubt incredibly difficult time that it is, I’ve definitely had times where I’ve known “I’m not ok” (and probably some undiagnosed stuff going on for a while there.) And there were times when I made myself vulnerable and told people I trusted that I felt that way, and I was met with no response. This was damaging for me at a time where I was struggling, and discouraged me from telling anyone else how I was feeling for fear of being met with the same response. Hello prolonged and deepened state of feeling that way and feeling that no one cared about it. So I feel pretty passionately that one of the most important things we can do for ourselves, our friends and our family is learn a little bit about mental health, recognising issues, the right questions to ask and where to get help. You don’t have to become a trained psychologist but knowing a few simple yet important questions and then supporting them to seek further help (this part is key, it isn’t on you to “fix” someone), could be the best thing you ever do for someone you love and care about. None of us are exempt from mental health issues entering our lives in some shape or form at some point along our journey, whether it’s us directly, our best friend, girlfriend, uncle, grandma, brother, colleague. We are all just human, and it is ok not to be ok. Say it, but really make sure you believe it and you mean it when you do, and act accordingly.

I’d also like to add to the list of things we should say, with meaning, to ourselves and to others: it’s ok to be ok. This one has been huge for me this year. To give myself permission to be happy, to grow, to change, to accept myself and be content with who I am and where I’m at in all aspects of my life. The death of a great friend, the break up of a long and central relationship in my life, was actually the catalyst (read: kick up the bum) I needed to wake up, stop floating along in my own life and take some responsibility for myself and my own mental and emotional health. Would I wish those events on anyone? Absolutely not. It was the hardest time in my life by a million miles. But am I proud of the way I’ve handled it? Absolutely yes. I turned sadness, grief and almost incomprehensible loss, into growth, acceptance, love and joy. Did I feel guilty about it? Heck yes. Sometimes I still do. I have to tell myself every day that it is ok to be ok. It doesn’t mean I loved anyone any less, that I didn’t care, or that that friendship and that relationship meant nothing to me. It doesn’t mean I can’t still be sad about all that has happened. Those things couldn’t be further from the truth. But I also have no control over either of those events. Very early on in the grief process I wrote two lists, one of things I could not control, and one of the things I could control. Featured on the list of things I could not control, things such as the death of my friend, the choice of my boyfriend to break up with me and all of his choices forward from there, what other people were going to think and say about me following the break up, how our friends were going to react, and the weather (even in grief I’m a comedian). But more importantly on the list of things I could control: my own actions and reactions to the events happening in my life, the way I spoke about the relationship, the break up, and the people involved, what I chose to share, and where I choose to invest my time moving forward. I took that control and I ran with it. I would recommend this process to anyone dealing with anything they find overwhelming. Write the list, accept what you can’t control, and commit to working on what you can. I sought help from a counsellor, I read books, I started writing daily, I made myself vulnerable to my friends, I explained where I had been and where I was going. I apologised to people that I felt I needed to make amends with. I made a commitment to myself that I was going to stand by myself, invest time in myself and love myself through every day of grief and loss and pain. I promised myself that I would do the things that make me happy and bring me joy. And that I would be ok, and that that would be ok. The result? It wasn’t all smooth sailing, it was hard, I had and still have, rough days. But overall I now have the healthiest mindset and outlook on life I have had as far back as I can remember, an ability to process what I’m feeling and deal with it, stronger friendships, deeper insight and much more contentment with my life and myself. For those things and more, I’m grateful.

Sometimes it can feel like mental health issues are consuming our generation and our society. Sometimes I look around and feel like I know more people that are struggling than are not. Like I said in the beginning, it is ok not to be ok. But it’s also ok to look after yourself, to not get pulled in and dragged down, and to put yourself first. You don’t have to be struggling with your mental health to be “normal”. You don’t need to feel guilty if the people around you are struggling and you feel fine. Cherish it, and keep working on it even when you do feel fine. I love the five ways to wellbeing endorsed by the Mental Health Foundation of NZ. I was sitting at work and noticed a leaflet on the table and when I read them, I realised that without having actively known the specified five ways, they were all things that had helped me over the last few months. If you aren’t familiar with the five ways to wellbeing, they are:

1. Give- your time, your words, your presence.

2. Be active- do what you can, enjoy what you do, move your mood.

3. Keep learning- encourage new experiences, see opportunities, surprise yourself.

4. Connect- talk and listen, be there, feel connected.

5. Take notice- remember the simple things that give you joy.

No matter if you feel like you are struggling with your mental health, on a downward spiral, coming out of some struggles or like you’ve reached the peak, implementing even just one of these five ways is bound to improve your wellbeing to some extent. I would encourage you to read each one and think of examples of how you have done this in the last week or two, and if you can’t think of any, then how are you going to over the next week? Do it for you, because you are worth investing time and effort into.

Like I said, not a mental health expert but from my own experiences and from the experiences of people around me, sometimes improving your mental health can be a bit like being stuck on a see-saw that doesn’t quite touch down on either side. You are on the path to wanting to be better, but you fear change and moving on. Maybe it is because you feel like you get attention from the people you love when you are facing problems. Maybe it is because you just don’t know what it’s like to not have the struggles to focus on. Or maybe you feel like your mental health issues have become part of your identity and just “how you are”. There are so many reasons we fear letting go. But can I tell you something? You are loved and you are worthy, even when you are ok, and even when you are not ok. Too often it seems like our worth is based on how we are. People want to be around you because you are happy, people give you attention because you are sad. It can be hard for us to disconnect this from controlling how we are or how we present ourselves and just let ourselves be. You are not and will never be defined by your mental health. The people who really love and care for you should be there for you regardless of the highs and lows. And all they will want is for you to live to your fullest potential. So surround yourself with people who are happy for your happiness and sad for your sadness, but allow you to feel what you feel and don’t make you feel bad or try and project how they think you should be feeling. This is the importance of honesty and vulnerability, you are the only one who really knows how you are. Ask for help when you need it, share your highs and lows with people you trust, and commit to your own journey.

Be brave, ask the people you care about if they are ok this week, and respect the answer that they give you. If you have been waiting for a sign that you need to reach out and tell someone you are not ok, consider this your sign. Make yourself vulnerable, I know it’s scary, but you can do it. And if you truly don’t feel like you have someone you can be vulnerable with or that you can trust, we even have a solution for that in New Zealand! To avoid feeling like a Stuff article, I won’t post them all here, but for a start you can free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor.

As always, thanks for reading, and I hope you take the time this week to reflect on your own mental health journey.

Bernie ❤️

Tawa Medical Centre supports Wellington Free Ambulance Onesie Day 2018

Sep 10 2018

Tawa Medical Centre & Linden Surgery Newsletter

Aug 31 2018

Spring Newsletter 2018



It feels like spring is upon us early this year and with it comes a fine coating of pollen. This is the time of year when pollen release is high –this can be a problem for people who are prone to airborne allergies. Other triggers can be dust mites, pet and mould allergies.

Symptoms of hay fever may include a blocked, runny or itchy nose, itchy watery eyes, bouts of sneezing, headaches, or a feeling of pressure over the sinus area.

How hay fever is treated depends on the severity of your symptoms. Mild symptoms can be treated with over the counter medications such as anti-histamines and eye drops. Try and avoid being exposed to the allergen if possible.

For more severe symptoms consult your Doctor. If symptoms last for more than 4 days a week and are affecting your quality of life and other medical conditions please make an appointment to be reviewed.

 Depending on the severity of your symptoms treatment may include a prescription for corticosteroid nasal sprays, decongestants (for short term use) and antihistamines.


Introducing Natasha our new Practice Nurse. Natasha is a new grad and joined us at the end of January. We’re sure you’ll enjoy getting to know her. In her spare time she enjoys singing, dancing, painting and doing creative things. She will be working 4 days a week in the Tawa Practice.


Do we have your most up to date details on file? Keeping our database up to date with accurate patient information is a constant challenge. Have you changed address or phone number recently? Have you given up smoking? Do we have the name and contact details for your next-of kin? Please remember to advise us when you make changes which we may need to know about.



Do we have your current card number on record? Eligibility for some funding relies on you having a current CSC so please update your information with our receptionists the next time you are in.



From April 1st 2018 Zostavax (the Shingles Vaccine) has been FREE for those aged 65-80.We had some problems with supply in the early days but this has now been sorted.

Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes Chickenpox. After Chickenpox heals, the virus lays dormant in your nerves and may later reactivate as Shingles. That is why anyone who has had Chickenpox can get Shingles. Shingles is a painful, blistering rash. There are some health conditions which may mean vaccination is contraindicated or should be delayed e.g. if you are under the care of a specialist, are immunosuppressed or have had recent treatment for cancer. Everyone who wishes to have Zostavax is required to complete a screening questionnaire before being given the vaccine, to ensure it is in your best interests to receive it. Zostavax can be given to patients over 50 but if you are not eligible for a free vaccine there is a cost of $250 which includes the nurse consultation. As with every vaccine you must wait 20 minutes after your vaccination to ensure you have no reaction .     



Just a reminder on the methods we use to let you know about your test results. If everything is normal you won’t hear form us unless your Dr has specifically told you otherwise .If there is anything to be concerned about we will contact you by phone, text, or the patient portal to discuss the results or ask you to make an appointment to discuss what needs to happen next. Depending on the nature of the test you may not be contacted for up to two weeks until we have received all relevant results—your GP or nurse can give you an approximate indication of the timeframe. If you are concerned you haven’t heard from us at the end of the given timeframe, or you are feeling worse, please give us a call.


 The Ministry of Health require us to update the data on our patients’ smoking status, and to provide advice re quitting, once a year. Some of you may feel that we are constantly contacting you to update these details, and have stopped replying to us. If you could please respond to our messages or texts then we won’t have to bother you as often.


When you request a prescription either at reception, on the prescription line or by Manage my Health it is important that you give us as much information as you can to assist us in getting you the right medication and the correct dose. If you want it to be faxed or delivered to a pharmacy it is important that you indicate clearly the pharmacy name and address and if possible fax number. Please note an additional fee is charged for same day, faxed or posted prescriptions. If there is a problem with your request a nurse will ring you so please supply us with the contact number you are going to be on. When you receive a letter advising that you need a clinical review with your next prescription please note that it is a good idea to make your appointment in plenty of time before you run out of your regular medications, as at times, appointments are scarce.


We would like to encourage our male patients to make an appointment for a prostate check with a Doctor. Every year over 3000 NZ men are being diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. Early detection can lead to better outcomes. 


We appreciate that there are times when your financial circumstances might be difficult, and you may struggle to pay your medical costs. We are here to help you find solutions to work with us but, to do this, we need you to let us know as early as possible if things are getting tough. We do not want this to prevent you from seeking medical care when you need it. Where we can, if you meet the eligibility criteria, we may be able to source additional funding for you. However, there are a number of patients who routinely do not pay their medical fees and do not respond to our attempts to contact them. After many attempts, we will consider referral to a collection agency. This isn’t something we do lightly as it affects your credit rating. We therefore need to remind you of our standard payment terms - we expect payment at the time that the service is provided unless you have entered into a prior arrangement with us. We wish to advise that procedures, such as minor surgery and unfunded vaccinations (e.g. for travel), will incur additional costs. When discussing the need for these your GP or nurse can advise you of the cost. We accept a variety of payment methods; including cash, eftpos, most credit cards and regular Automatic Payments (many patients find this a useful way of “smoothing” out their medical expenses rather than finding a lump sum). Please talk to one of our reception/administration team if you have any concerns regarding your medical costs.



May 01 2018

Winter’s on its way with shorter days, colder nights and the usual round of winter colds and illnesses.




If you or a family member gets asthma, check you have a ready supply of your preventer medication and inhalers. If you need a refresher on how to use an inhaler, one of our practice nurses can show you what to do.

Here are some other tips for keeping well in the countdown to winter.

·       Keep active, get lots of fresh air and drink plenty of water.

·       Wash and dry your hands thoroughly to keep any germs away.

·       Eat lots of fruit and vegetables – they’re a great source of vitamins!

·       Avoid slips, trips and falls – clear paths and steps of moss that could become slippery when frosty.

·       Keep you and your home warm – stock up on firewood and check doors and windows for gaps that could cause draughts.


VISIT www.healthnavigator.org.nz for more information and tips.

Zostavax Vaccination

Apr 26 2018

From April 1st Zostavax (shingle vaccine) has been funded for patients aged 65-80.

Due to the pressure on our nurses’ appointments, with the flu vaccine arriving late, we have decided to concentrate on ensuring everyone who is eligible can get their flu vaccination in a timely manner. We will be starting the Zostavax campaign in earnest in June and we will be getting extra supplies of the vaccine in to cope with demand.

 Zostavax is a live vaccine. There are some health conditions e.g. If you are under the care of a specialist, are immunosuppressed or have had recent treatment for cancer it may mean vaccination is contraindicated or should be delayed.  Everyone, who wishes to have Zostavax, is required to complete a screening questionnaire before you can be vaccinated to ensure it is in your best interests to be given this vaccine.

Please contact us on 2327193 in early June if you think you are eligible.

A Message from Dr Kevin Fitzsimons

Mar 23 2018

To those of my patients whom I have not seen in person, I wish to advise that from the end of March 2018 I am retiring as a partner at Tawa Medical Centre. After 37 years here this is quite a wrench. I have been most fortunate to have known so many wonderful people as patients and workmates during that time.

The relationships that I have formed with my patients has meant a great deal to me and will not be forgotten. I thank you most sincerely for the trust you have placed in me and for the real privilege of sharing in your lives. I will miss you.

The departure is eased by the confirmation of an outstanding replacement. Many of you will have met Dr Cat Rourke, who has been with us for the last ten years. I recommend her to you and I know that she will provide you with care of the very highest standard.

You might still see me about on occasions as I will fill in when required.

My best wishes to you all.


  • Contact Us

    Ph :+64 4 232 7193
    Fax :+64 4 232 5081
  • Hours

    Monday, Tuesday & Friday : 8am - 5:30pm
    Wednesday & Thursday: 8am - 7pm
    Saturday: Closed
    Sunday & Public Holidays: Closed

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