The world's only mobile surgical unit rolled into Wanaka for the first time yesterday at Wanaka Lakes Health Centre.
Over 23,000 patients have been treated on the 20m long, 42-tonne unit since it began operating in February 2002.
The unit contains a fully equipped operating theatre suitable for low-risk elective day surgeries in a wide range of specialties including general surgery, gynaecology, dental, ears, nose, throat and orthopaedics.
Mobile Health clinical nurse manager Liz Grant said examples of general surgery procedures are surgeries to repair hernias or an orthopaedic procedure to treat dupuytrens.
The first patient in Wanaka will be treated on Monday, August 6 for dental work, then the bus travels on a five-week loop of the country, stopping off for one day at 24 rural towns.
Nursing staff from Wanaka will be trained to work onboard the bus, with surgeons and other specialist staff being sought from further afield.
Queenstown has already hosted the bus 113 times since 2003, but while the Lakes District Hospital is currently undergoing renovations the Wanaka Lakes Health Centre will host the unit.
The service is funded by the Ministry of Health, and works in partnership with District Health Boards and local health providers to ensure rural patients can have surgery closer to home.
The unit will return to Wanaka on September 10, October 15 and November 19, then every five to six weeks for a total of 12 months.
Pictured: The mobile surgery. Photo: Andrew Pankhurst
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