Vision for Maleny’s palliative care unit

By Marina Gomide

DEEP in the hinterland, hidden on top of a hill amongst the mist and trees, is a small, local hospital with high tech equipment, large rooms, ensuites, extra beds for family, bright coloured walls, paintings, and nice bed covers. 

This is Maleny Soldiers Memorial Hospital’s vision for its palliative care unit.

This idea is now becoming a reality with help from the Maleny Hospital Auxiliary volunteers.

Auxiliary president Diana Bryce has been leading fundraisers for over 10 years, with the Auxiliary’s current efforts being directed towards the refurbishment of the hospital’s palliative care rooms.

While COVID-19 made the modernisation of these rooms take longer then desired, the efforts haven’t gone unnoticed by the patients and their families. Diana and Senior Medical Superintendent Dr Kris McQuaid said that the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with Dr McQuaid stating that he can see it in his treatment and observations of the patients.

Director of Nursing and Facility Manager Karen Croker said that making the palliative care rooms feel more like a bedroom, rather then a hospital room is crucial to contributing to the patient’s comfort.

“Aesthetics are important for palliative care patients; their families spend a lot of time here and it’s important that people feel comfortable and as close to normal life as possible,” she explained.

Aside from the feeling of home away from home, the funds are also being directed towards acquiring new equipment, such as the brand-new slit lamp, which is a microscope used during eye examinations.

 Having access to this new technology in Maleny further helps improve the quality of life of palliative care patients, as it means they don’t have to travel to receive treatment.

“Being close to home, having an outlook that may remind people of home, having friends and family close by to visit more frequently and having staff that may know some of your background already, makes things more tolerable from the patient’s point of view”, Dr McQuaid said.

He also emphasized how having this specialized equipment in the hinterland area helps take the pressure off the Sunshine Coast University Hospital, with them not having to divert every patient to an already highly pressured facility.

This is where being a small, local hospital is beneficial, as the tight knit community provides a lot of the funds it can’t get publicly.

“The Maleny Hospital Auxiliary, from my experience, certainly does a job that is far beyond what you’d expect from a small community,” Dr McQuaid said.

“This community certainly has a stronger than expected love for this hospital.”

The hospital gardens are a gathering point on weekends for patient’s families and pets, with them having barbeques and strolls along the Remembrance Walk, a footpath dedicated to fallen soldiers and the hospital’s history.

Maleny Soldiers Memorial Hospital was founded in 1921 as a tribute to the soldiers of World War I, initially a private hospital which also tended to soldiers and veterans for free.

With the increasing demand for a hospital in the mountains, it eventually became public and now helps anyone in need, not just from Maleny but all the Sunshine Coast hinterland area and even Brisbane.

Brighten up a room

THE annual Spring Affair, hosted by the Maleny Hospital Auxiliary, will take place 10am on September 14 at the Maleny Show Pavilion. The fundraiser will be dedicated to refurbishing and improving the palliative care unit at the Maleny Soldiers Memorial Hospital.

The morning tea will feature beautiful food, flowers and local Maleny fashion, as well as raffle prizes.

Everyone is welcome to attend, but hurry, as tickets have already started disappearing. Guests can buy single tickets for $30 or make up tables of six or seven people.Please call Diana on 0407 372 613 or Jan on 0409 876 112.