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Canberra Hospital Foundation: Patiently supporting the community…

Beatrice Smith

Four years after the conception of the Canberra Hospital Foundation, Manager Alexis Mohay and Fundraising Officer Caitlin Silec reflect on the ethos of the foundation, its benefactors and the future in a conversation with HerCanberra.

When asked what the Canberra Hospital Foundation (CHF) are most proud of achieving in the past four years Alexis Mohay, Manager of the foundation, thinks for a moment then highlights the wealth of art now on display at the hospital and the new spaces tailored for young children and teens before concluding that they’re most proud of CHF’s reputation in the Canberra community.

Through the efforts of people like Alexis and Caitlin over the past four years, the Foundation enjoys a gleaming reputation throughout the territory and are regularly approached by both community and corporate donors who want to see their good work continued.

“People who donate to CHF are a mixture of those who have directly experienced the hospital system themselves or through loved ones and those who want their charitable donations to be kept in the Canberra community,” says Alexis.

As CHF are a part of ACT Health they are unique in their capacity to do keep donations within the community as they are governed by an external advisory board, meaning that salaries are paid by the government and all funds donated are allowed to be dispersed into the Canberra community in their entirety. This structure is vital to the CHF as their reach is broader than the name suggests – donated funds are not only allocated within the Woden hospitals but to community health centres across the territory.

A closer look at CHF’s benefactors reveals some fascinating anecdotes. Ruth Henderson was diagnosed in 2013 with a rare blood condition that carried a mortality rate of 80 per cent. Spending time in Haematology isolation at the Canberra Hospital gave Ruth a unique understanding of the need for specialised stimulation for patients of blood related illness. This understanding motivated Ruth to organise a charity walk, in which she will walk 120 kilometres over three days in the hopes of raising money for Haematology Acute Care through CHF.

Local cyclist Rodney was hit by a car while cycling in 2011 and suffered multiple serious injuries, including shattering his lower spine. After making a full recovering in Canberra Hospital, Rodney created the Road of Bones Initiative (RODI) as a way to raise money for CHF to further assist injured cyclists. RODI has since raised over $3000 for the Canberra Hospital.

Donations come in all shapes and sizes for CHF – local artist Annie Trevillian’s colourful vinyl artwork of Canberra’s skyline creates a vibrant privacy screen for the children’s garden in the Centenary Children’s Hospital, in front of which is Myles Gostelow’s donation of a sleek wooden bench, created from recycled timber from the Old Tharwa Bridge (both pictured above).

CHF also raises donations through more traditional means such recent charity event, Sweet ChariTEA, a HerCanberra favourite. The fundraiser, organised by celebrated Canberran event planner Kartika Medcraft, encompassed an indulgent high tea degustation held at the beautiful event space The Abbey in Nicholls as well as a fashion show, raffles, art show, best dressed prizes and more.

As for future goals, Alexis states that CHF’s present aim is to “spread the love”. Many of the patrons of the CHF choose to donate to the Centenary Children’s Hospital or to general children’s sections such as paediatric oncology, however from watching the ‘Heart and Soul’ video on the CHF website it’s obvious that the the foundation does great work beyond these units.

Treadmills for physical therapy, beanies for older patients, a play therapist for the Centenary Children’s Hospital and the purchase of costly at-home equipment for patients with rare conditions are just some of the efforts of the CHF highlighted in this video. Beanies, blankets and other homemade or knitted items are always welcomed in all areas of the hospital and people who feel moved to knit something for patients are encouraged to donate here.

“Deliveries of donated knitted items for older patients, who sometimes lack visitors and living relatives, are seen as wonderful gifts,” adds Alexis.

When asked if to summarise the ethos of the Foundation in a few words Alexis immediately replies, “support patients” and “to make their journey more comfortable”. It’s clear the Canberra Hospital Foundation’s warm message of support and care is reaching those who need it most, and we can only hope that in the future, generous giving will make way for even more people’s loved ones to be supported by CHF in their journey through Canberra’s hospital system.

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Beatrice Smith

Bea loves that her job as HerCanberra’s Editorial Coordinator involves eating, drinking and interviewing people - sometimes simultaneously. The master of HerCanberra’s publishing schedule, she’s usually found hunched over a huge calendar muttering to herself about content balance. Otherwise you’ll find her at the movies, ordering a cheese board or ordering a cheese board at the movies. More about the Author

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