Service of the sick

From replacing sheets and bandages more than 90 years ago to its role today as the major fundraising arm, the Calvary Mater Newcastle Hospital Auxiliary has had an evolving association with the infirmary.

The Mater Auxiliary formed on 24 August 1927 and its purpose over the past 92 years of service has remained the same — service of the sick.

The auxiliary’s efforts are ongoing and significant with its dedicated troop of 29 members in no shortage of work. In the 2018-2019 financial year alone the two men and 27 women, ranging in age from 57 to 101, complemented the healthcare offered at Calvary Mater Newcastle, working a total of 46,285 hours, and amassing a whopping $326,276.13 in donations.

Mark Jeffrey, general manager, Calvary Mater Newcastle, says while the auxiliary’s role has evolved throughout the years, the selflessness of members, both past and present, remains.

“This inspiring group continues to be an integral part of the hospital with the bare foundations laid by the courageous and dedicated women who formed the Mater Auxiliary in 1927,” Mr Jeffrey said. “Every year our loyal and dedicated auxiliary astounds us with a significant donation. It is because of its dedication we can purchase much-needed equipment for the care and comfort of our patients throughout the hospital.

“We are constantly inspired by the hard work and countless hours the members put in each and every week and are incredibly grateful for the ongoing support they provide to our patients and staff.”

For Margaret Dougherty, auxiliary secretary, volunteering has always been a part of her life. “It is a feel-good feeling knowing you are helping someone in the community,” she said. “You always get your own personal satisfaction.”

Ms Dougherty has been volunteering with Calvary Mater Newcastle’s Auxiliary for more than two decades. The Adamstown woman, along with the others, has been responsible for countless fundraisers — from craft and cake stalls, to functions, bowls days and even fashion parades.

As the main fundraising arm, the auxiliary is considered essential in enabling the hospital to provide leading-edge care through new oncology equipment for cancer patients that it wouldn’t have otherwise been able to afford.

The auxiliary works closely with the hospital on wish lists.

“On the first Thursday of every month we [auxiliary members] have our meeting at the hospital to discuss business, vote on what equipment we would like to fund and the ways we can help the hospital,” said Ms Dougherty.

“These meetings are also attended by staff of the Mater. The staff explain exactly what equipment they may require, and we vote from there.”

Over the past year, the auxiliary has purchased hospital equipment and made donations to the hospital to the value of $225,315 with further equipment to the value of $87,000 on order. It is an astounding effort.

This equipment purchased on behalf of the hospital for the care and comfort of patients includes integrated work stations for the Day Treatment Centre, a full anatomy model for the Emergency Department, chair scales, wigs, a contribution towards a microscope for plastic and breast reconstruction, observation machines, a treadmill and compression garments for lymphoedema patients, as well as an assortment of occupational therapy equipment.

And there’s no slowing down.

Next on the wish list includes new scalp cooling caps that assist patients with hair follicle preservation during chemotherapy, and three cough-assist machines.

While these funds and contributions speak volumes for the auxiliary’s dedication, the ovation it receives from the community is a testament to the inspiring impact it has on the patients, staff and visitors it continues to serve.

If you wish to join this dedicated and inspiring group or wish to engage in one of its monthly meetings, please contact the Calvary Mater Newcastle public relations department on 4014 4714 or 4014 4712.

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Brittany Gonzalez

Brittany Gonzalez is a Marketing and Communications Co-ordinator for Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

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