September 5, 2008

Huge Support for Charity Hospital

The Canterbury Charity Hospital Trust has been established to meet the needs of some of those people in Canterbury who are no longer on any waiting list and do not have the personal finances to seek the medical help they require.

The hospital is run by the community, for the community, with surgeons, nurses and technicians performing the operations and running clinics free of charge.

Funding for the hospital comes directly from individuals, groups, and businesses within the community, with the Charity Hospital growing its services to perform up to 700 day surgery operations and provide 700 medical consultations a year. The services include specialist consultation for respiratory disorders, pain management, and joint diseases, and day surgery procedures such as cataracts, hernias and carpal tunnel.

The hospital itself is housed in a converted villa in Harewood Road, Christchurch. The trust has worked with the community to raise the funds needed to convert the villa into a hospital, complete with operating theatre, recovery room, two consulting rooms, and administration areas. By working with sponsors, such as Bill Skews of Skews Architects, who did more than $90,000 worth of pro bono work on the designs, and Mainzeal Construction, who worked with contractors to achieve discounted prices and provided a reduced project management fee, the cost of the conversion was kept to approximately $1.2 million. This money was raised through applications for funding to charitable foundations and trusts, individual donations, and through community projects such as bike races, cricket matches, concerts, dinners, mufti days, street appeals and donation envelopes to name but a few. Groups from Rotarians and Lions through to flower arranging societies and churches and schools were all encouraged to come on board to help with the fundraising project - and the support was overwhelming. Funding for the project is ongoing, with the trust having set up a fundraising committee to seek corporate contributions and support to set up a fund to ensure the ongoing running costs of the hospital are met.

Right from the start, the Charity Hospital's trustees (Philip Bagshaw (chairman), Randall Allardyce (deputy chairman), Sue Bagshaw, Brian Stokes say they knew there were plenty of other people in the medical profession, and in the wider community, who believed that if they couldn't change the public health system, they could do something to help some people who were falling through its gaps.

"We knew that once we went public with our idea we would be approached with offers of help," says Bagshaw, an associate professor at the University of Otago, Christchurch.

"New Zealand's sense of community spirit is partly what attracted Sue and me here 25 years ago, and I'm happy to say that spirit is still thriving. We have been overwhelmed by the number of people who are not only donating to the charity financially, but also by the number who have offered their business services, medical expertise, time and knowledge. It is this sort of participation from the wider community that will enable us to achieve our mission."


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