Clinic consultation

A series of thefts disrupts the survival of the travel clinic

08042022 News photo DAVID UNWIN WW Clinic office manager Lisa Scotland despondent over thefts.  The clinic used to do vaccinations and travel advice covid destroyed that so they turned into covid vaccinators but put up a marquee in the parking lot so there was enough room for people who were waiting.  Then they brought portacoms for more comfort.  Things kept getting nicked out of the marquee, now the set of steps leading up to the portacom door are gone.

DAVID UNWIN/STUFF/Stuff

08042022 News photo DAVID UNWIN WW Clinic office manager Lisa Scotland despondent over thefts. The clinic used to do vaccinations and travel advice covid destroyed that so they turned into covid vaccinators but put up a marquee in the parking lot so there was enough room for people who were waiting. Then they brought portacoms for more comfort. Things kept getting nicked out of the marquee, now the set of steps leading up to the portacom door are gone.

Petty theft and abuse have plagued Lisa Scotland, director of the travel advice clinic, even more than the Covid-19 pandemic, border closures and total loss of customers two years ago.

“We were absolutely criticized and wondered whether to close or reinvent ourselves.”

Palmerston North-based Worldwise Health Clinic did the classic Covid-19 pivot, helping with testing, then taking on the challenge of vaccination.

Scotland said it had invested in what was necessary to keep the business alive and support the community, and was upset that it had been targeted by thieves.

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The straw that broke the camel’s back this week was the overnight theft of specially designed steps to help people get to the gates of portacoms installed in the car park.

“We’ve had enough, without people coming to use our things.

“I had to spend money to diversify, and then people come and do this to me.

“It’s absolutely heartbreaking.”

Two years ago, the company suddenly ran into trouble when the travel industry evaporated.

The clinic which was set up in 2009 was largely put on ice, while Scotland and other staff worked at the main testing station in Palmerston North.

When lockdown restrictions eased, the clinic refocused its business, using the Ws in its Worldwise name, building on its Healthy Women, Healthy Whānau and Workplace workflows. health.

When the vaccination roll-out began, the Gray Street clinic became a vaccination center and has delivered over 16,000 doses so far.

The building that has been its base for four years was not big enough to cope with people waiting and physical distancing, so Scotland hired a marquee for $650 a week and set it up in the parking lot.

A pop-up gazebo, tables and other items left inside the marquee were stolen – anything that wasn’t tied down.

In fact, even the ties were taken from the last marquee borrowed from Urban Search and Rescue.

“So it’s actually flying USAR.”

As the weather turned cooler, Scotland invested $30,000 in a pair of portacom buildings where people could shelter in somewhere warmer and more comfortable than a tent.

It was a little higher up in the cabins, so his friendly builder and dad created a few block steps.

Now they are gone, making portacoms inaccessible for many people.

They probably weren’t worth an insurance claim, but it would cost money to replace them.

Scotland had spent money on security cameras so was able to watch dark footage of a vehicle pulling into the car park in the early hours of Thursday morning, with someone getting out, taking the steps and driving off with them.

She was unable to choose a license plate number or a face, but handed over the images to police in the hope that they would provide enough evidence to identify the culprit.

The clinic has also been the target of verbal abuse and shouting from people opposed to vaccinations or pandemic mandates or restrictions outside on the street.

“I just had my guts full.”