The Friendly Society Private Hospital has launched a charity foundation to shore up its long-term future as a healthcare provider in Queensland’s Bundaberg region.
The Friendlies Foundation was launched at the weekend as the charitable fundraising arm of the 143-bed private hospital.
The Friendly Society Private Hospital has serviced the Wide Bay and Burnett regions since 1946. Last year, the hospital reported 16,337 admissions – an increase of eight per cent on the previous year.
The foundation will work to ensure the hospital remains an important part of the area’s wider health system. It will oversee the fundraising efforts to support future expansion projects, upgrade technology and services, and support research and education.
“Our region has a higher proportion of the older demographic and they have higher healthcare needs,” foundation Public Relations Manager Fiona Macaulay said.
“The Wide Bay and Burnett is also growing in population so we need to expand hospital services.”
One of the foundation’s first projects will focus on raising money for a second catheterisation laboratory (cath lab).
The hospital has the only cath lab between the Sunshine Coast and Townsville and patient demand is incredibly high, with around 1,000 patients using the service last year.
Mrs Macaulay said the demand for the service was only increasing.
“Last year, 1,000 patients were able to have treatment here in Bundaberg that would otherwise have had to travel to Brisbane,” she said.
“This year, we expect to increase patients through the cardiac cath lab by 30 per cent. 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.”
Ms Macaulay said there were substantial costs involved in building a second cath lab and as a not-for-profit organisation, the hospital relied heavily on community support.
Another focus of The Friendlies Foundation is the funding of doctor research and education. Ms Macaulay said investing in those areas would not only improve patient outcomes, but it could also be a great incentive to attract and retain specialists.
“The Friendlies Foundation is also about creating awareness of what we do as a hospital,” Ms Macaulay said.
The foundation plans to hold regular fundraising events throughout the year.