Eight years of hardwork, lobbying and fundraising paid off on Thursday, December 15 as the Milton-Ulladulla Cancer Outpatients Appeal (COA) presented a cheque for $320,000 to Illawarra Shoalhaven Health District (ISLHD) for Milton Ulladulla Hospital’s Palliative Care Centre.
The funds will form part of a $650,000 donation from the COA for the project, which is due for completion in 2017.
“This is the first installment of our commitment of $650,000 towards the funding of the project” COA president Peter Still said.
The funds from the COA will allow the unit to expand from two palliative care rooms to also include two family rooms.
Meaning patients can have their loved ones stay near as they approach the end of life.
“For those people in palliative care who can't stay at home previously they would have to move to Berry or go further north,” Mr Still said.
“It was a great imposition on those people and also on their families. Now we have a situation where people needing pal-care can stay at home, or in their hometown.
“Their families can actually stay with them overnight in the new facilities and it will make a huge difference to these people needing pal-care.”
ISLHD chief executive Margot Mains praised the COA and the Milton-Ulladulla community for the amazing fundraising work the group have done to allow such a generous donation.
“I think in this community there is amazing dedication and commitment shown by the committee members and the community,” Ms Mains said.
“By working together what we are able to do with our joint combined efforts is to achieve sometjomg for this community that is even greater.
“It will enable people particularly those in palliative care to be surrounded by their family and loved ones. In such a hard time in your life there is nothing like having their around you.
“I would like to offer a true heartfelt from the board to the entire committee, the community and to Dee Carrington. We wouldn't be here without you.”
ISLHD head of palliative care with Greg Barclay said without the support of the community the new unit simply wouldn’t exist.
“The work they have done is extraordinary,” he said.
“It's so important for people to be cared for in a designated palliative care bed.
“What has been done by having these beds created means we are taking that opportunity to ensure we improve not only the rooms people are cared for in, but also the level of service they receive.
“One of the things that will often trigger someone coming into hospital is that they don't want to be a burden to their family. Whether that is real or not it is a concern to people who are approaching end of life care.
“If you can take away that burden, but support them close to home you have the best of both worlds.
“Not everyone can be managed at home, so facilities like this can be a great help to the people of the Milton Ulladulla area.”
Fundraising efforts by the COA saw a number of events hosted including casino nights, bingo and bowls, which all received massive community support.
“You can't sing the praise of the community enough,” Mr Still said.
“It’s not the COA’s money it’s the communities money and their generosity is overwhelming.”
Ms Mains acknowledged the generosity of the community and the passion the region shows for Milton Ulladulla Hospital.
“This community is incredibly giving and intensely commitment to this hospital,” she said.
“They get right behind fundraising efforts and they help make this a better place everyday for this community.
“There is a real drive to make this a better place.”
Shoalhaven City Council mayor Amanda Findley said our community rallies behind the hospital as everyone seems to have a personal connection with the facilities.
“What makes it easy for our community to support our hospital is the tender loving care we receive here,” she said.
“The staff are concerned not only for the comfort of the patient but the comfort of the family too.
“We need to ensure the hospital is maintained not only for us but for our children so they can come back here and live their lives.”
The COA is recognised by ISLHD as the official community and fundraising body for the Milton Ulladulla Community Cancer Services Centre.
Mr Still added this donation is not the end of the line for the groups fundraising as the facility will need ongoing maintenance.
“This is only the start as we see an ongoing need to help maintain the palliative care unit as well as the cancer services centre,” he said.
“We will be needing to not only actively maintain and improve the current cancer services, but also to raise more funds to cover future needs.
“This is estimated to run at between $50,000 and $75,000 per year.”
The COA is currently organising a number of fundraising events for 2017 including a repeat of barefoot bowls, the casino night, golf day and Melbourne Cup event.
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