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April update from Lisa Rowe

I was chatting to an Emergency Doctor a couple of weeks ago and he likened the situation at the time to the moments before the tsunami rolls onto the beach after the tide has gone out. He said it’s like he and his team in our local hospitals are ready on the sand left exposed by the receding waters, waiting for the enormous wave to reveal itself on the horizon.

The call I made was one of many to our frontline health teams asking how we, their local hospital foundation, might best help them and their patients during this unusual time.

Right before the water receded it was business as usual. 

Wishlist had just approved the funding of a therapeutic garden at Nambour Hospital, an extension of the $30,000 Wellness Garden we funded for staff and patients years ago.  

We had also committed to a $380,000 rehabilitation garden, playground and upgrade of the outdoor staff area at Gympie Hospital.

A $200,000 Family Room for patients of the Paediatric Critical Care Unit will be funded as soon as the COVID emergency passes and services return to normal.

We ordered an intra-oral camera for Nambour Hospital’s Oral Health department, voice amplification devices for stroke patients and those with neurological disease, and committed to a third day each week for the local Clown Doctor service.

But then as most of our office staff moved to working remotely, businesses were forced to close and unemployment lines grew longer the reality of our new world took hold.

The Wishlist Fun Run is postponed until October, the profile of our much-loved Mix FM’s Give Me 5 for Kids appeal will be greatly diminished this June, and events like our Wishlist Jazz and Wine Festival and Wishlist Spring Carnival are in question (but still on at this stage). 

So with so much uncertainty around future fundraising income our charity, like many others, has placed a hold on the funding of new projects and services for now.

We continue our commitment to music, pet and yoga therapy, and of course our local Clown Doctor service, but sadly many of these services are halted temporarily to avoid risk to patients and themselves. 

Volunteer services have also been impacted with the beloved blue-vested volunteers at SCUH, Nambour, Caloundra and Gympie all being stood down for now.  So too the Coastal Caring Clowns who have been donating laughs aplenty to local hospitals for twenty years.

The Wishlist/SERTF Research Grant Round has been postponed until later in the year, because we don’t want to add unnecessary pressure to a workforce focused almost entirely on the pandemic.

The Nambour Hospital Auxiliary has also been impacted by these unprecedented times and after 34 years of serving Nambour Hospital patients and staff they’ve closed the doors on the Kiosk, an operation that’s raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Nambour Hospital needs. 

But when one door closes another door opens. Wishlist seized the opportunity to open Wishlist Coffee House Nambour, inspired by the success of the Wishlist Coffee House Gympie. We plan to continue the outstanding work of Auxiliary President Jean Whitney, her staff and volunteers and through the enterprise continue to support the needs of Nambour Hospital and beyond. 

In just over a week the Wishlist team, lead by Jeff McColl, has pulled together the new look Wishlist Coffee House, complete with a new menu.

Speaking of doors, we’re thrilled to say that the finishing touches are being completed on The House the Coast Built and we’re set to open by the end of the month.  It’s been an interesting last-minute rush to retrieve furniture from local businesses forced to suddenly close their doors, but thanks to Ged and the team at Ab Fab Removals it’s all been collected and stored safely for the next couple of weeks.

It’s your generous contribution that has seen this furniture, linen and utensils purchased, and it’s your generous donations to 92.7Mix FM’s Give Me 5 for Kids that bought the land.  It’s the contribution of more than 80 generous local businesses that has seen this magnificent six bedroom, six bathroom home built for next-to-nothing for Wishlist and for the benefit of countless families who will call it home during the worst time of their lives.

It’s the vision of Ausmar Homes that sees this, their third House the Coast Built, adding to a legacy already begun with a suite of ophthalmology equipment housed at Caloundra Hospital and $300,000 worth of equipment and resources provided to our children at a local hospital.

I have to pause here to tell you how amazed I am at the size of home that Ausmar has created on a 450m2 block of land. It is enormous! Our plans for a Street Party to mark the opening of the home have been foiled by a virus but we promise you’ll get a peak when we host a Virtual House Party later this month. When life returns to normal you’ll be invited to check out this special home in person.

So back to how we can best help our Health families and local patients during this time.

We’ve opened Reed House at Nambour Hospital to health staff who wish to self-isolate to keep their families safe. 

We are coordinating the delivery of food donations from local businesses to frontline health staff.  A big thanks to Bakers Delight Birtinya who donated 7,500 individually wrapped hot cross buns to all our local hospitals.  Headland Park Golf Club is donating restaurant-prepared packaged meals to health staff and we’re working with the Food and Agribusiness Network (FAN) to provide home-delivered meal vouchers to weary staff at the end of a long shift.

We continue to harness the gratitude of a generous community through our Wishlist Spreads Love campaign, that’s seen messages of gratitude feature across our social media channels and adorn the big screen at the front of SCUH, screensavers across our hospitals and at Big Top and Sunshine Plaza shopping centres.

Our health heroes are more loved and appreciated by this community than they’ll ever know. 

We’re also exploring some ideas we have to help local patients – our most vulnerable – being discharged to return home to isolation, and some other ideas to help staff.  Our recent SMS appeal raised just over $2,750 to date towards this work and we’ll be texting you again in the months to come.

Just on that, we know our world is hurting and that many of you can’t give right now.  We also see every day that many businesses and families want to do something to help those fighting for us in this silent war, and you Sunshine Coast, continue to give.  For the past 21 years it’s been our job to direct that generosity towards the maximum benefit for Coast health services, and we’re working to do that now. 

So stay tuned for more on these initiatives, and the other equipment and resources we’ve allocated to our wish list this month for future funding.

Call it naivety, eternal optimism or blind faith in the Aussie determination but I’m willing that tsunami to never come in. We’re doing the right thing by self-isolating and right now we are flattening the curve. I’m really proud of how our country is handling this crisis.

This too shall pass and the world will return to the new version of normal.  Until then please stay home, stay safe and know our gratitude to you, the supporters of our cause is as unrelenting as those waves lapping up on Moffat Beach.

Take care. From Lisa Rowe, Wishlist CEO.