New diabetes clinic promotes lifestyle changes to save lives

Auckland-based health care provider, the Fono Manurewa, has a new diabetes clinic that is helping patients get the most care in a single visit with a one-stop-shop for services. With a dedicated diabetes nurse specialist, and dietician podiatry clinics available in the one location, patients get the care needed to control their diabetes and work towards reversing it. 



According to Tongan-born doctor and The Fono’s Manager of Practices, Aivi Puloka, Type 2 diabetes is a lifestyle chronic illness that leads to multiple life-threatening complications if preventive lifestyle changes are not included early.


Therefore, prevention and screening of diabetes is targeted for Pacific and Maori adults. Early diabetes can be reversed with lifestyle change and medication. Chronic diabetes management is aimed at delaying the onset of severe complications.


“The management of diabetes is key to preventing complications that cut a person’s life and productivity short,” says Aivi.


The solution sounds simple – raise a patient’s awareness and advise them on how to change their lifestyle before their diabetes gets to an irreversible stage. Aivi says, however, when it comes to their own health, people don’t always engage.


More often than not, Pacific and Maori patients only visit the doctor when unwell, which is an issue with illnesses like type 2 diabetes and hypertension.


Waiting until they feel sick is problematic, because patients may not be aware of the need to get a check-up.


“Diabetes and hypertension may not appear to give them problems at all because they don’t feel sick,” she says.


“So there is a need to regularly come in to check and monitor their blood pressure and blood sugar levels.


The prevalence of the problem is why we now have a dedicated diabetes service to help with this.


“Our aim at The Fono is to help our patients live a vibrant, productive life by caring for them.”


Aivi is also aware of Pacific and Maori diabetes patients who need to book a range of appointments at different places, but don’t as it’s put in the ‘too hard’ basket.


“It’s best to catch them when they come into the clinic for whatever reason,” she says.


What works for Pacific and Maori patients is what Aivi calls the ‘one-stop-shop model’.


“We have to have all the services pertaining to diabetes in one place,” says Aivi.


“We’ve got dieticians, specialists, retinal screening and diabetes self-management education.”


All services are offered at The Fono Manurewa’s new diabetes clinic, where patients can learn how to control and aim to reverse their diabetes.


Over a half-hour period they see the nurse and discuss a range of issues including lifestyle changes, how to take their medication, when to test their diabetes, understanding their insulin levels and what to do when their blood sugar levels are low.


Aivi can’t stress enough the importance of this service in reaching our people who don’t tend to engage in their own health outcomes.


“Our clinic allows the kind of engagement that we need to have with our diabetes patients, as well as patients with long-term conditions, in order to enhance lifestyle change,” she says.


“Having these services in one place, delivered by specialist nurses who have the time to engage with patients and develop a rapport with them in order to build trust, is paramount.”


Staff at the The Fono Manurewa are working through a big recall list of diabetes patients that includes patients of Manurewa Family Doctors, which merged with The Fono in June 2016.


Patients interested in the new service can call and book an appointment for the diabetes clinic.


More information about the Fono:


About The Fono

The Fono provides affordable services including medical, dental, pharmacy, health promotion, social services, education and Whanau Ora. They deliver a combination of these services across five locations. With combined experience of five separate clinics stretching over 80 years, The Fono aims to be a leader in health for the people who need it the most, fostering well, safe, vibrant and informed communities.

Click here to view The Fono’s website