Natalie Di Paola
The Mona Vale Hospital Auxiliary was officially launched on 1 July 2007, but it has been around for much longer than that.
Technically, the Auxiliary has existed since the hospital opening was announced in 1961. In the past, it comprised of a number of small auxiliaries around the North Shore that raised money for the hospital. Most of these have since disbanded due to small membership numbers, and the rest amalgamated into the Mona Vale Auxiliary that is known today.
The Auxiliary has two jobs. It runs the kiosk at the Hospital, which has been operating since the hospital officially opened in 1964. It’s other job is to raise money to purchase medical equipment that is not included in the hospital’s budget.
“Every hospital has a budget, and often, there’s not enough budget to meet their actual requirements,” reveals Norma Moran, President of the Mona Vale Auxiliary.
Last year the Auxiliary spent $118, 000 on equipment, which provided powered wheelchairs, special equipment, ECG machines and trolleys, bariatric chairs, wheelchairs and heavy duty wheelchairs.
“Sometimes we’re quite delighted, it sounds crazy but we buy a piece of machinery and then later on we’ve found out that one of our members has ended up in hospital and this piece of machinery has been very necessary for them,” Moran admits.
“We get quite excited about that. We really feel as though we’ve achieved something.”
Most funds raised last year went towards renovating the rehabilitation unit at Mona Vale Hospital. The ward, which has been there since the 1960s/70s, was renovated to give patients the same accommodation standard as those staying in the new beachfront ward.
“It was looking very tired,” says Moran. “Those in the old one were asking ‘well, why am I in here?’, ‘That must be for private patients, is it?’ and we’d say, ‘No, it’s just where the beds are available.’”
These renovations added air-conditioning, new floors, about 10 new bathrooms and a fresh coat of paint to the building. The only thing left is the Clinicians Room, which somehow got missed in the renovations, according to Moran.
“You can imagine, they go in to see a specialist in this little room, in the middle of summer, and they can’t really concentrate on anything because it’s so hot.”
The Auxiliary holds a number of events to raise the money, all of which the community is actively involved. A number of people knit, bake, and sew items which are then donated to the stalls. There’s a stall every first Saturday of the month at Pittwater Place, a sausage sizzle at the Bunnings in Narrabeen, usually on the second Saturday of each month and a stall in the foyer of the Mona Vale Hospital on the third Friday of every month.
“So, that’s where we raise a lot of money, and it’s amazing how many people sit and knit and sew and that sort,” says Moran.
“We’d like to hold more stalls in a way, but we can’t find anywhere to do it!” she laughs. They are occasionally given empty shops by Pittwater Place, which can help to raise more money.
The Auxiliary also receives money from places such as the Rotary and Bowling clubs, who also host events to raise money for the hospital.
However, Moran believes that the numbers of volunteers won’t increase after the hospital comes down because they will have lost a number of patients and nurses.
The main Hospital will close on 31 October this year, with patients being transferred to the new hospital in Frenchs Forest. After the equipment is out and services finished, the building will come down in March next year. The rehab facility and pool will remain, and a palliative care unit will be opened in its place. More health services will be established next year after the building is demolished.
Moran assures that, “the site will remain public, it will not become private. More health facilities will, in due course, be built there. There will be no development, it belongs to the health service and that’s where it will stay.”
Moran is glad that the “ancient” hospital is being replaced by a new, ‘level 5’ one. The new hospital will have operating theatres, the latest technology, top specialists and more.
But what will happen to the Auxiliary once Mona Vale Hospital is knocked down?
“The auxiliary will continue to work to look after Mona Vale and the patients because that is what we do,” says Moran.
“I think everybody is proud to be part of the auxiliary because we feel like we’re contributing something to the community. And the hospital has always been a very important part of the community.
“So, we’re just this bunch of old ladies, who continue to push and work away and will continue to raise money for the facilities there.”
If you would like to get involved, you can visit the website.