Hospice makes urgent appeal for more funds

Otago Community Hospice chief executive Ginny Green is calling for urgent community support....
Otago Community Hospice chief executive Ginny Green is calling for urgent community support. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
A grim funding situation, rising costs, and high demand for services mean tough times for the Otago Community Hospice.

Chief executive Ginny Green said the hospice was appealing to the community to help it break even following six months of fraught fundraising.

Hospice Awareness Week, May 15 to 22, usually promotes Otago’s specialist palliative service, but this year is focused on seeking financial support from the community.

"Our commitment to our community stands strong and I want to reassure everyone that this call to aid is not about the hospice thinking about reducing services, but our need for your support has never been stronger," Ms Green said.

The hospice was facing a "perfect storm of pressure points", with the Omicron surge forcing a three week closure of local hospice shops, and fundraising events curtailed.

At the same time, costs are skyrocketing, particularly around pay parity issues.

The Otago Community Hospice supports patients and their families across the Otago region, free of charge, and is very busy working with about 250 patients at present.

While many people are supported at home, and peer support groups have adapted to operate remotely, the in-patient facility on North Rd has remained fully functioning.

"That has been an incredible achievement for such a small workforce," Ms Green said.

"Our service is a valued and cherished one, which is there free of charge for our population when they need it."

But the service costs close to $7 million a year to run, of which 56% is covered by the Government, leaving a shortfall of $2.7 million to be covered by fundraising.

With the restrictions on fundraising this year, the hospice was looking at a potential shortfall of about $200,000, Ms Green said.

"We are certainly feeling the pressure at the moment, which could be relieved somewhat by our awesome community assisting us get to the end of this financial year with our books balanced."

Looking ahead, the tough times are set to continue, as rising costs meant next year’s fundraising target would have to be $3.3 million, she said.

"We work hard all the time to keep costs down, but our budget shows that our costs are going up to $7.5 million," Ms Green said.

"With no increase in government funding, we will be facing even more of a challenge."

It was hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, unless there was movement from the Government towards a sustainable funding model, she said.

 

BRENDA.HARWOOD@thestar.co.nz

 

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