The heavy rain that fell as Rev Jimmy Clair blessed the Firth School fixed dental clinic in Matamata was a sure sign the Gods would smile on the new $600,000 facility, Waikato District Health Board pou herenga Kingi Turner told guests at the official opening today.
“The rain is so vital, it’s what makes Waikato so lush and green so because it is falling, the signs are good for the clinic,” he said.
It’s not what everyone was thinking as the rain bucketed down during the blessing but they forgot all that as they had a guided tour through the first of six fixed clinics opening throughout the year as part of a $10 million Ministry of Health investment in Waikato oral health.
Other clinics will open in Tokoroa, Cambridge, Morrinsville and three in Hamilton supported by nine new mobile clinics. There are currently 78 school-owned facilities all of them in need of replacing or refurbishment.
Health Waikato chief operating officer Jan Adams said the clinics and dental vans followed a strategy developed in 2006 by the Ministry of Health known as “good oral health for all, for life”.
“We have more than 1700 school age children and 500 pre schoolers who will use these clinics. Children are our future and there is plenty of evidence to suggest that good oral health contributes to good health generally,” she said.
Mrs Adams paid tribute to the school and the Matamata community which raised additional funds to move an old school classroom off the site so Waikato DHB could build the new clinic near the main road and accessible to visiting children.
“When you said you wanted the clinic on this location it was not without its challenges financially. With a real community effort, you raised the money needed to move the classroom and build the clinic here.
“Parents hold the key to improving the oral health of their children so we will be doing all we can to support and encourage their greater involvement.
“The clinics are much more welcoming – goodbye to that old saying “the Murder House” which I’m told many of you called the old dental clinics – something to do with the old foot pedal drills I understand,” said Mrs Adams.
Firth School principal James Eldridge said he was indebted to the community and to his staff and board who worked tirelessly to see the clinic through to fruition.
He thanked in particular the Matamata Futures Group and Matamata Lions as well as 16-year-old Taylor Skipper, daughter of teacher Carla Uerata, who designed a wall hanging acknowledging the community support.
Matamata Piako deputy mayor Jan Barnes said she was delighted to see the clinic opened.
“There were hurdles, which makes this day all the more sweeter,” she said.
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