Mayoral Column: Covid-19 conversations on the importance of public health

Add to favourites

This time of year Council normally seeks nominations for our annual Citizen Awards. As we respond to Covid-19, we’ve decided to ask for these a little later this year instead.

In the meantime Mayor Volzke is catching up with a few of our previous recipients to chat about Covid-19 and hear their thoughts on what this means for our community as a whole.

Read this week's column below:

Mayor Neil Volzke 

This week I spoke to Judy Drummond (2019 recipient) and Mary Garlick (2005 recipient) and asked about the importance of public health during the pandemic response.

I can’t recall a public health issue anywhere near the size and threat of Covid-19. The rapid spread of the disease, the highly infectious nature and the trail of destruction incurred almost beggars belief.

Both Mary and Judy confirmed that, during their careers in health, neither could think of an event that came anywhere near a comparison to Covid-19.

Judy thought the Stratford District had responded well, saying “Stratford is a very caring community. It has been great seeing families out with a cheery smile. People you don’t know saying hello, neighbours checking on each other, friends or relatives getting the groceries for the older folk.” Mary had similar thoughts and believes the relative isolation of the Taranaki region and the small size of Stratford helped provide re-assurance to the community.

My observations have been much the same. People have been compliant and willing to do their bit to support each other through this pandemic and the many challenges some people are facing. In particular the front line health workers have really excelled, and along with other essential workers, we owe them a huge vote of thanks from this community.

Mary says, “The leadership from the top in government and in health has been superb with a response that is research, science and fact based, all of which has been regularly and honestly shared with us all.” But she still had concerns over the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for front line health workers and felt they “had been forgotten or the last to be provided with PPE”. Judy had similar concerns saying that, “the insufficient PPE for all in the initial stages must have been worrying for front line carers.”

As hugely experienced and respected health professionals, both Judy and Mary offered remarkably similar words of advice to help us all stay safe and healthy.

Judy says, “With outbreaks of diseases there are proven protocols and procedures to go through, but Covid is a very different beast, with a lot of unknowns making it very difficult to treat. This has been a wakeup call for many on how important hand washing is and this needs to be kept up to aid in the prevention of the spread of germs.” Both Mary and Judy emphasise the importance of staying home if you’re unwell, and to remember the basics of good coughing and sneezing etiquette.

Their advice is absolutely on the mark. Consistent with messages from the Ministry of Health and the star performer during the crisis, Dr Ashley Bloomfield.

Mary’s final comment is typical of her: “My hope for our town going forward is that we continue to see the higher level of caring, sharing and neighbourliness that has been apparent in lockdown. And that the extra catching up with family and checking on neighbours we have enjoyed continues and doesn’t disappear in to the rush of what has become ‘today’s working lives’.
My thoughts exactly.

Check in again next week, as I share more Covid-19 conversations with Citizen Award recipients.

Mary Garlick Judy D

Mary Garlick (2005 recipient) and Judy Drummond (2019 recipient).