Focus on Taumarunui

Taumarunui Hospital

Taumarunui is located in the King Country region of the central North Island. With a population of more than 5,000 it is the largest centre in the region for a considerable distance. The town’s economy is based on farming and forestry but Taumarunui has also gained importance as a tourism centre through being the gateway to the Tongariro World Heritage Park and the Whanganui National Park.

Taumarunui Hospital MapTaumarunui Hospital is owned and run by the Waikato District Health Board. It is a busy rural facility that employs 94 staff and provides services for approximately 8,715 people in the Ruapehu District. The hospital is equipped for most types of general medical care and has 17 inpatient beds available for medical/surgical acute and non-acute adult and paediatric, oncology and palliative care patients.


It also has an Emergency Department, Maternity Unit, X-ray/laboratory and a Te Whare Whanau for family use. MSS first visited Taumarunui in April 2004 and since then we have completed 671 operations in general surgery, gynaecology, ophthalmology and endoscopy. 


In addition to the Mobile Surgical Unit, the Satellite Van has also visited Taumarunui. A mixture of hospital staff and health professionals from local rest homes (including physiotherapists, ambulance officers and occupational therapists) have enjoyed learning about topics ranging from cardiac disease to dementia.


We asked Taumarunui Hospital Manager Joanne Knight to tell us how she feels the MSS service has worked in the local community:

What do you think it means to the community to have the Mobile Surgical Unit visit?

“The Bus allows our community to continue to receive expert surgical services that are modern and provides an environment that complies with the ever-changing standards that are required of an operating theatre. It also allows the people in our region to have their procedures completed in their community. They do not have to worry about travelling, finding support people to transport them, the long drive to and from Hamilton or the costs associated with this (such as parking and fuel). Being treated in your own community can reduce a lot of the stress that can occurs when people need to have surgery.”

Satellite Van at Taumarunui HospitalHow do you think staff benefit from the surgical unit and the mobile satellite education service?

“Staff have benefitted by being able to continue to be involved in delivering surgical services and keeping current with the education required to work in a theatre or post-op environment and having contact with other health professionals. The mobile satellite education enables us to receive customised, quality, up-to-date education without the need for staff to travel
great distances. It is also a great opportunity to offer education to other health professionals in the community and network with them following the education sessions.”

Is there anything else you would like to share with readers about the surgical unit?

“It is an invaluable service for rural communities especially in these economic times when finances are an issue. If needed, patients have the support of their local hospital after their procedures. There is opportunity for a more personalised service as staff often know the person having the procedure. Having access to this service close to a person’s home also means that they are able to have more than one support person with them if they choose to do so.”