Area large but field worker relishing role

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Jo McIntosh has taken a slightly different path in her nursing career – she is the Multiple Sclerosis Society Southland field worker.

The Invercargill-based woman is spending a lot of time on the road since her appointment about six months ago.

There was a lot of travelling involved because her territory was large.

“I do really enjoy it. It’s great to be able to support the community,” Mrs McIntosh said.

Being a registered nurse for 21 years has given Mrs McIntosh a wealth of experience and knowledge.

Her previous jobs included being a wound care nursing tutor.

She decided it was time for a change and the position with the MS Society fitted the bill.

Her territory encompassed all Southland including Queenstown, and she had 150 clients with either MS or Parkinsons, she said.

Parkinsons had become more prevalent as people lived longer, she said.

“It’s on the increase,” Mrs McIntosh said.

While there was no cure for Parkinsons, there were treatment options.

One of those was deep brain stimulation, she said.

Exercise was also recommended.

“It’s one of the things that is going to slow down the progress of it,” she said.

But the exercise needed to be vigorous and expand the lungs and elevate the heart rate, she said.

One of the most common questions Mrs McIntosh was asked was how the disease was going to affect a newly diagnosed person.

She not only supported the client but also their families, she said.

She supported clients in their decisions.

“Not everyone chooses to take medication.”

The symptoms of MS and Parkinsons varied in individuals, she said.

She not only provided support but also equipment such as walkers.

“For us it’s just more getting out and supporting and seeing what everyone’s needs are.”