Joint project supports Eastern Bay of Plenty women

A joint project by two neighbouring Rotary clubs in New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty offers improved health outcomes for women with breast cancer and other forms of cancer.

The two-year project by the Rotary Clubs of Kawerau and Whakatane came to conclusion in April with the commissioning of a SOZO machine at Whakatane Hospital.

Valued at almost $33,000, the machine detects lymphedema in breast cancer patients, and other conditions, enabling better and faster treatment. Until now, Eastern Bay of Plenty women had to travel out of the district for this analysis or use antiquated equipment at Whakatane Hospital.

The SOZO Digital Health Platform is the only bioimpedance spectroscopy (BIS) solution cleared by the American FDA for the clinical assessment of lymphedema. It uses bioimpedance measurements to assess fluid levels and tissue composition. That in turn guides physiotherapy nurses in the best treatment of the condition.

A SOZO test is fast and can be performed by any member of the care team. Results are instantly available at the point of care, and through the MySOZO web-based portal can detect lymphedema early before noticeable swelling, allowing for early intervention.

PICTURED: Associate Director of Allied Health Care Carol Vivian and Rebecca Lumb with the SOZO machine.

The Rotary Club of Kawerau was alerted to the need for a SOZO machine but realised the amount required was too much for a small club to raise. It contacted the Whakatane club and between them the two clubs raised approximately $11,000. The Impact Fund, part of the Eastern Bay Community Foundation, contributed $21,500. Impact 100 is a group of 100 women who have each pledged $1,000 towards community projects. SOZO is their first major project.

In addition to the main machine based at Whakatane Hospital, staff also have a portable machine for use as far away as East Cape, which is more than four hours’ drive away, eliminating an arduous trip to Whakatane.

This is the second joint project for the Kawerau and Whakatane clubs – their previous combined effort was a seat and landscaping at a reserve between the two towns.

Members are looking forward to more joint ventures in the future, which allows them to tackle larger projects.