Maitland Private comes together for Tahlia

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They’re responsible for caring for patients when they’re at work, but the staff at Maitland Private Hospital have gone outside the confines of their workplace to help a young woman in need.

A group of workers last night took part in a staff versus management netball match to raise much-needed funds for 21-year-old Tahlia Smith.

Ms Smith suffers from Lyme disease, a bacterial illness that is transmitted through the bite of a tick.

IMG_2225The Australian government does not fund the treatment for the disease, which means Ms Smith requires at least $100,000 to travel to Germany for care. Close to $1,500 was raised at the event.

Maitland day program coordinator Mathew Irwin, who organised the fundraiser with the help of colleague Maureen Gallagher, said it was wonderful that the staff could help Ms Smith and her family.

“When we found out she needed to go to Germany for treatment, we wanted to help,” he said.

“The event went really well and everyone enjoyed themselves. Everyone at the hospital got involved and the response from the community was great. There was a really big turnout.”

IMG_2230Ms Smith contracted the illness six years ago while travelling to promote her performing arts career. She has been an inpatient at Maitland Private and part of the day program.

The severity of Ms Smith’s condition means she is largely bedridden and was therefore unable to attend the fundraiser.

Mr Irwin said Ms Smith’s parents had already reached out and expressed their gratitude.

“Her parents were very thankful and called us up this morning in tears to say they were thrilled with what we’ve been doing for Tahlia,” he said.

The match, played at Hunter Indoor Sports, ended in confusion, with Mr Irwin of the belief that management had unfairly “convinced” the umpires to award them the result.

“On paper it was 27-26 to management, but that’s incorrect,” he laughed.

Mr Irwin said future fundraising events were already being discussed.

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