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The new Southland Charity Hospital is flooded with offers of support

More than 100 medical professionals from all over New Zealand offered to do a voluntary stint when Southland Charity Hospital opened in mid-2022.

A national response from doctors, nurses and other clinicians surprised Blair Vinning, who died in 2019 at the age of 39 after a delayed diagnosis of intestinal cancer, says his widow Melissa Vining.

His experience motivated him to set up a charitable hospital that was not funded by the government and was not paid to doctors, nurses and clinicians.

Melissa says a local doctor called on her colleagues to volunteer for help early in the project. Media promotion also helped.

She says the offer came locally, then from Christchurch, and from around the North Island.

Charity hospital services are arranged around the availability of clinicians.

The intent is that many hands do light work, she says.

Expectations for tourism spin-offs

Melissa wants clinicians to take the time out of their paid work and stay to enjoy local tourism “around our beautiful state.”

Several tourist operators in Te Anau and Queenstown have been suffering since the blockade in 2020 and are offering prize packages as a hospital fundraiser.

They are facing difficult times, but “here they are contributing to this project,” says Melissa.

Blair was surprised that a person’s medical results could depend on where they lived and whether they had insurance or could afford a private diagnostic test.

His experience is a hospital designed around a daytime procedure, starting with a colonoscopy to check if the inner layer of the colon (intestine) is cancerous using a medical device called an endoscope. Was the motivation to establish.

Blair and Melissa Vining. Blair’s diagnosis of intestinal cancer motivated the campaign to establish a charity hospital in Southland. Photo: Layton Findlater

The little finger-sized scope has a light, small camera that sends pictures to the operator looking at the screen.

Charity hospitals offer free colonoscopy services to people who are rejected by the public system and do not have medical insurance or personal funding. It will depend on donations, grants, and the generosity of a wider community dedicated to helping those in need in the South.

Inspired by Canterbury Hospital

Melissa says the new hospital was inspired by the success of Canterbury Charity Hospital, which was “very generous” in information, knowledge and guidance.

Melissa is a councilor on the board of directors of the new hospital. She says Blair would have been very surprised by the support and short time frame of the huge community that would see the hospital open in mid-2022.

The renovation of the former Clifton Izakaya building, which was donated by the Invercargill License Trust along with the land beneath it, is proceeding smoothly. The $ 4.5 million needed to remodel the building has already been raised.

Impressions of an old tavern artist transforming into a new Southland Charity Hospital

The Southern District Hospital Commission Zone, which covers Southland and Otago, had the highest percentage of people with symptoms who were denied colonoscopy, and was one of the highest rates of intestinal cancer in New Zealand since then. ..

The project raised awareness of cancer

Melissa says these rates are due to a combination of challenges. However, the nationwide rollout of the first bowel screening test (from age 60) reached Southland, and the high profile of the subjects led people to seek medical assistance when they recognized their symptoms.

We know people who have sought help and have undergone colonoscopy as a result. “

However, as many young people have been diagnosed with intestinal cancer, she hopes that the screening program will eventually address those under the age of 60.

Through arrangements with local private hospitals, charitable hospitals can offer colonoscopy to those who would otherwise miss it.

When the charity hospital is opened, initially only colonoscopy will be offered.

Then dentistry will be added

Funding is currently focused on dental chairs, the second additional service for dentistry, in addition to the $ 1 million required for theater equipment, including colonoscopy and anesthesia equipment.

A retired Dunedin dentist donated equipment from his practice, in addition to a dental chair.

According to Melissa, the trust committee will monitor local needs before deciding which additional services can be added to the business.

There are many needs, she says, “I’m glad I didn’t have a picking job.”

Among many fundraising activities were farmers who donated wool for use as building insulation. Meanwhile, two young men organized a dog trial and raised about $ 50,000.

Rio Tinto, an aluminum smelter operator, has donated $ 100,000 to the build as part of the Covid-19 Community Support Package.

The hospital also needs volunteers for gardening, cleaning and management. Details can be found on the website.

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Southland Charity Hospital

The new Southland Charity Hospital is flooded with offers of support

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