Volunteers give, it's taken away
VOLUNTEERS raised a combined $4.43 million on the North Coast in the past three years because of a commitment to maintaining local medical services, United Hospital Auxiliary (UHA) state president Mollie Strong said.
Ms Strong, from Byron Bay, said the 500 auxiliary members between Tweed Heads and Grafton who contributed 360,000 hours of their time during that period were concerned about being transferred to hospitals outside their communities to be treated, isolating them from family and friends.
"The majority of volunteers are over the age of 65 with older people experiencing more hospitalisation and they volunteer because they want state-of-the-art local medical services should they need them," the retired hospital administrator said.
"Many of our volunteers are fearful that in an emergency they will not be able to access appropriate levels of care locally."
The money is raised through events such as raffles, fetes, craft shows, charity days, theme days, golf, fashion parades and art shows.
"The unique thing about UHA is that every dollar raised stays in the community where it was raised," Ms Strong said.
Bonalbo Hospital Auxiliary secretary Merrill Carr is "very cranky" that equipment, including a defibrillator that the community purchased for $20,000 in 2008 for its hospital emergency department is now locked away between 11pm and 7am.
"The community bought it and they are entitled to its use," Mrs Carr said.
"It's so dangerous when you haven't got local medical services.
"We are one and a half to two hours from Lismore Base."
The local health district closed the emergency department late at night in April 23 following the retirement of the local doctor in late December.
A FUNDRAISING YEAR
North Coast hospital auxiliary fundraising from July 2010-June 2011:
Byron Bay $50,633
Tweed Heads $269,254