Rotary Lodge has been providing low cost onsite accommodation at the grounds on the Port Macquarie Hospital Precinct for over 20 years. The growing demand for accommodation for patients, guests, and family has seen a recent expansion of the premises. We chat to the Operations Manager Paula about what Rotary Lodge is and what they have been up to recently.
When was Rotary Lodge established, and by whom?
Rotary Lodge was the brainchild of Ron Walesby, a member of the Rotary Club of Port Macquarie, after the unfortunate tragic Kempsey bus crash. With the support of the District Governor and two members of each of the four local Rotary Clubs, namely Port Macquarie, Port Macquarie West, Laurieton and Wauchope, they formed the committee, and Ron as the chairman made the first press release in Feb 1991. The proposal was to build six units to accommodate accident and emergency patients’ families, which they completed in 1996.
Then in early 2000, planning commenced by the then committee chairman Richard Morocco for Stage 2, which was opened in 2005 containing an additional 18 units to service the further expansion of the Base Hospital, including a Radiotherapy Unit along with patients at the Port Macquarie Private Hospital.
In 2014, the realisation was that we either continue as we were with 24 rooms and turn people away, or extend the accommodation for patients and carers with the new $150 million extension to the Base Hospital and the Private Hospital. The decision was really a given, as we are here to support as many people as possible who need to attend Port Macquarie for their medical procedures.
So, 2018 sees 12 more rooms opened up, and the slab laid for another 12 rooms when funding allows.
Can you tell us about your role with Rotary Lodge, and who else is part of the team?
My role is to ensure the efficient operation of Rotary Lodge 24/7, every day of the year, to ensure the clients have a comfortable and relaxing stay whilst undergoing their medical procedures. I am supported by my able-bodied staff and the 10 volunteer members of the Rotary Lodge Board.
Who does the Lodge offer its facilities?
Rotary Lodge offers accommodation to patients, carers and family members coming to Port Macquarie for any medical appointments and/or procedures. We also continue to service the needs of Accident and Emergency patients, as per our original charter.
You’ve just complete a new stage of the development – how many rooms and what is included?
The Lodge offers 12 new rooms, making a total of 36 rooms. They are a fully self-contained motel type unit, with external laundry facilities, common room lounges and off-street parking.
How will the extra rooms benefit locals.
This increase of rooms will allow us to expand and accommodate our clients from outside Port Macquarie, from the Manning region to the south to the Queensland and western state borders. We will also be able to provide hospital in the home type accommodation for people who live in outlying areas who may not need to be in hospital, but who require daily medical services to support their recovery.
What is the next stage that is planned?
The next stage for Rotary Lodge development is the completion of the final 12 rooms. This will compete the full development of 48 rooms.
Where does the funding come from?
The funding comes from grants from the Federal and State Governments and community groups, and with the current expansion funded by a loan from Holiday Coast Credit Union.
Funding for the original land was funded by the operator of the Base Hospital in the form of the donation of the land, and the first stage was funded by Rotary Clubs and Federal Government grants, along with various community groups.
Stage 2 was funded by federal funded grants, Cancer Council of NSW, Hasting Council and a financial loan from Holiday Coast Credit Union. We were also funded by various local community groups.
For Stage 3, unfortunately we have been unable to receive any grants from Federal, State or Local Government Areas, so we have again gone to the Holiday Coast Credit Union to gain a loan facility to complete this stage of the building. Various local community groups have contributed to the cost of the fit out of each of the individual 12 units.
How can locals help Rotary Lodge?
We would love to see locals assisting community groups to raise funds for Rotary Lodge. We are like so many not for profits; a dollar donated goes a long way. Also, donations given to the Rotary Lodge stay in Port Macquarie.
Our biggest wish would be for local community groups to assist with putting on a evening meal for our guests. These are such rewarding events for not only our guests, but also for the community groups.