Dr. Frank Lewins, Chairman of Sunshine Hospice is working hard to reopen the facility.
Dr. Frank Lewins, Chairman of Sunshine Hospice is working hard to reopen the facility. Warren Lynam

Sunshine on the horizon for hospice

A TEAM of dedicated volunteers are working steadily behind the scenes to bring the Sunshine Hospice back to life.

The six-bed hospice, formerly known as the Katie Rose Cottage, closed its doors on December 16 last year following ongoing financial struggles, but hospice chairman Dr Frank Lewins is confident the much-needed service will reopen.

It is just a matter of when.

On the back of a successful fundraising concert run by violinist Iain Maclean and attended by 120 people at the Good Shepherd Lutheran College hall in Noosaville on Sunday, Dr Lewins said money from the event and the takings from the charity’s successful op shops would go towards efforts to open the doors of the Doonan facility.

“Just because we’re not visible doesn’t mean a lot is not happening,” he said,

“We’ve got a lot of irons in the fire at the moment and it is just a matter of whether we can develop each one but we are so grateful for the ongoing community support.”

The board has been pursuing partnership avenues to boost the possibility of reopening the hospice in the short term and discussions with two potential health care organisations were looking promising.

Dr Lewin said the “well respected” organisations were “not necessarily contradicting or competing,” and they could end up having a positive outcome with both.

“We can’t go back to the model of funding the hospice that we had before, where we were effectively living off savings,” Dr Lewin said.

“Our independent business plan has been a reality check and we have accepted the fact that although we raised a lot of money through our own efforts, around $700,000 a year, the hospice takes far more than that to run - between $1.2 million and $1.4 million a year - so in a sense we were raising about half of what we needed and that’s what we’re working on at the moment.”

A partnership could allow the Sunshine Hospice to reopen in its current location and begin accepting patients, but Dr Lewin said they were also planning for the long term future.

“Our current thinking is to go back to our original mission to build purpose-built hospice for the Sunshine Coast,” he said.

“Then we would seek for it to qualify as a private hospital to give us accreditation for private health insurance rebates and also open us up to recurrent government funding.

“But realistically, even if we had the land and the money, probably a couple of million, to purpose-build today, we would still be talking at least two years before we could open that facility so what happens in the meantime? This consumes our thinking on a day-to-day basis.”

Dr Lewin said they had kept the lines of communication open with politicians to continue to lobby for recurrent funding, despite their “home away from home” model of care not fitting “comfortably under their umbrella”.

“But we are heartened by the fact that we’re continuing discussions with two respected organisations, which demonstrates sincerity, transparency and credibility as they really do have our interests at heart and they want to see us as a permanent feature on the Sunshine Coast.”

If you can help, contact Pat on 5479 0881.