A new charity has been launched to ensure the future of vital health care services in the Bundaberg Region.
The Friendlies Foundation is the charitable fundraising arm of The Friendly Society Private Hospital and was launched at an exclusive information evening at the weekend.
Fiona Macaulay has taken on the role of foundation public relations officer to raise the profile of The Friendlies Foundation and explain why the hospital’s services are vital to the Bundaberg Community.
“The Board has been working to establish The Friendlies Foundation for a few years,” Mrs Macaulay said.
“Our region has a higher proportion of the older demographic and they have higher healthcare needs. The Wide Bay and Burnett is also growing in population so we need to expand hospital services.
The Friendlies Foundation goals are to raise funds for future expansion of the Friendly Society Private Hospital, to purchase large capital items and to support research and education.
“The Friendlies Foundation’s first projects will focus on oncology and raising funds for a second Cath Lab, which diagnoses and treats heart problems and conditions,” Mrs Macaulay said.
Mrs Macaulay said The Friendlies Cath Lab was the only one between Townsville and the Sunshine Coast and the patient demand was already high.
“Last year 1000 patients were able to have treatment here in Bundaberg that would otherwise have had to travel to Brisbane. This year we expect to increase patients through the cardiac Cath Lab by 30%.
“With the need for this service growing, and the life expectancy of a Cath Lab only at 10 years, we need to build another one within the next three years.
“This will be at a cost to the hospital of more than $5m, with a master plan strategy in excess of $50m.
“The Friendly Society Private Hospital is a not-for-profit organisation, so it relies heavily on community support for its development and survival.”
Mrs Macaulay said The Friendlies Foundation also had the capacity to fund doctor research, which would not only improve patient outcomes, but also be a great employment incentive to attract and retain specialists.
“The Friendlies Foundation is also about creating awareness of what we do as a hospital,” Mrs Macaulay said.
To achieve its goals, The Friendlies Foundation will hold regular events throughout the year and foundation staff will be available to speak to community groups, organisations and businesses about the goals of the foundation and The Friendlies.
The first event will be a Mother’s Day High Tea at Rowers On The River on Saturday, May 7.
For tickets to The Friendlies Foundation High Tea, to book a community talk or to find out more about the foundation, contact Mrs Macaulay on 4331 1024.
IMAGE: The Friendlies Foundation public relations officer Fiona Macaulay at the official launch of the foundation at a cocktail information evening.