She was recently named the 2020 recipient of the Peter Snow Memorial Award, which celebrates an individual’s achievement in rural health research, projects, innovation and service.
Kemp’s win was announced in early November at the New Zealand Rural General Practice Network annual meeting. She was nominated by the Nurse Executives of New Zealand and the College of Nurses Aotearoa NZ.
In its nomination, the organisation described Kemp as having a “deep understanding and expertise in rural practice. She has immersed herself in rural work across her whole career and is seen as an inspiration by the nursing profession as a vocal advocate for quality, accessible, and local health care”.
While Kemp is humbled and honoured to receive the award, she describes it as “a team effort”.
Her 30-year-long career in nursing has been in a number of rural regions around the country – such as Greymouth, the Chatham Islands and Waimate. She completed her clinical masters and registered as a Nurse Practitioner, then in 2014, Kemp and husband Darcy bought the Pleasant Point Health Centre, where she works as the lead clinician alongside 11 others.
She told Rural News her journey has been made possible because of the support around her. She highlights the support of husband Darcy, who looks after the huge IT needs of the practice.
The Rural GP Network says Kemp’s efforts have enabled nurse practitioners to lead clinics and provide a significantly large part of primary care safely and effectively, helping to bridge the gap in areas that struggle to recruit rural GPs.
These efforts have seen the Pleasant Point practice double its patient base to around 2000 since the Kemps purchased six years ago. It has a 60-40 rural/urban patient split, with many of these coming from the surrounding rural areas of Geraldine, Fairlie, and wider South Canterbury – and one as far away as Picton.
She says the one good outcome of Covid had been rapid uptake of Zoom and telemetry health by patients in the wake of the pandemic.
“We were moving down that track anyway, but Covid has allowed it to become normal.”
Like many rural health professionals, Kemp is extremely concerned about the growing occurrence of mental health issues in the sector.
“People seem to be under pressure to perform and to keep getting better and I see this impacting on rural mental health,” she told Rural News.
Kemp cites as an example the hours many farmers and their staff work at harvest time.
“The hours they do are horrendous. They are under pressure to get the crops in and this can take a huge toll on both their and their staff’s mental health,” she adds.
While Kemp is supportive of the Government’s efforts to up funding for mental health, she is concerned this is not going where it is needed.
“I’ve seen nothing of this coming to the frontline, where it is desperately needed. That needs to change and soon.”