IT was a smashing day for those involved with the Southland Charity Hospital, as the building’s demolition for re-purposing got under way.
The hospital would provide free services to people in Otago and Southland who were unable to access care through the public or private health systems.
Board trustee Melissa Vining said it needed to reach $2.5 million to start bowling down the former Clifton Club Inn building interior to turn it into a hospital.
At full labour cost, $2 million more was needed to complete the build, while another $1 million was needed for equipment.
The charity had applied for various funding streams in addition to community fundraising efforts.
It all felt very real as she struck a blow into the first wall to be demolished, she said.
Her journey, and the idea behind the charity hospital, began when her late husband was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2018.
“I was thinking of Blair and how he would be so proud.
“Southland-Otago has the worst bowel cancer rates in New Zealand and one of the contributing facts to that is the low intervention rate.”
She said between 1000 and 1500 Southland and Otago people a year were missing out on colonoscopies.
“That is a huge number we can try and cater for.”
Catching cancer early was key to survival, she said.
To begin with, the hospital would provide free colonoscopy and dental care to patients meeting criteria.
Volunteers were needed, for the build and day-to-day operation of the hospital.
So far, more than 100 people said they would help. Thirty six with medical backgrounds and 50 volunteers for the build.
The repurposing build would begin in February and it was hoped to be ready by Christmas next year.
The latest donation was also given by New Zealand’s Aluminium Smelter chief executive and general manager Stew Hamilton on behalf of Rio Tinto.
As part of its global Covid-19 relief package to support communities, $100,000 was donated.