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Friends of the Hospital

Taking care of our future
Friends of the Hospital
The Montagu Hospital is a 40-bed unit with a Casualty Department, Maternity section, beds for ill adults and children, and a small operating theatre.

It serves the local community with a population of 32,000 of whom 26,000 have no medical insurance cover and rely on the hospital for medical care. The Community Health Care Clinic downtown attends to about 2,500 patients a month as acute cases and about 2,000 chronic cases. Two mobile clinics serve the rural and agricultural communities and see about 800 patients a month.

Visitors to the town also make use of the hospital for emergency care and car accident victims have been treated in the Casualty Department from time to time.

In November 1997, a senior sister at the hospital wrote to the local Montagu Mail stating that the Montagu Hospital is not a pretty place the wards are dark, the equipment old, and the patients many. Many people in the town suspected that the then Cape Government was neglecting the facility prior to closing it down. What a tragedy that would have been for the whole community!

In 1998 this threat became very real as the hospital was facing closure through lack of finance and support from the health authorities. A local dentist responded by convening a Public Meeting at the Golf Club early in the year and the Friends of the Montagu Hospital Trust was established, (This initiative kept the hospital doors open AND raised its status to one of the best country hospitals in the Western Cape!)

The aims of this organisation are as follows:
Primarily: to promote the health, welfare and comfort of patients in the hospital and associated institutions (which later came to include the Community Health Care Clinics in Montagu, Ashton and Zolani),
Secondarily: to assist and support the staff; to stimulate the support of the public; to provide amenities, facilities and equipment. (One of the first projects involved a much-needed lick of paint for the hospital!!)

Funding for the "Friends" is received via donations from local farmers, local businesses and residents, the sale of donated items at a bric-a-brac stall at the village market every month-end, proceeds from sponsored golf days, dinner dances and legacies. Financial support has also been received from local churches, overseas institutions and even the biker rally members who visit Montagu regularly.

Projects are selected and prioritised in close association with the Hospital Board and the senior medical staff of the hospital and clinic and are closely monitored by the "Friends" from start to finish. About R 2million has been raised to date and has been used for:

* a remodelled Casualty Department
* the creation of two private wards and an Infectious Diseases Ward
* supply of piped oxygen throughout the hospital
* refurbishment of the disused Nurses Home to provide accommodation for medical staff, visiting specialist and medical students
* re-development of the training centre, with provision of computer facilities
* replacing ward curtains and installing opaque glass for privacy
* provision of storage for patients files in both facilities
* provision of new facilities to support the mobile clinics that serve the farms
* funding of diabetes eye screening, breast cancer awareness and HIV testing
* purchase of essential physiotherapy equipment
* for many years the "Friends" provided a garden service to maintain the hospital gardens
* the refreshments enjoyed by the staff at the hospital and clinics are sponsored by the "Friends"
* the purchase of flat-screen TVs for the clinics and hospital and the provision of educational and entertainment DVDs

The Montagu Hospital is now indeed a pretty place, the wards are light and airy, the equipment is in line with good standards of health care and the staff and patients are much happier! Where lack of finance was originally blamed for the probable closure of the hospital, a renovation project of over R2million for the current financial year (2017) has just been completed.

The "Friends" continue with their work unabated dealing with new projects as they arise. The projects involve an upgrade of the Children's Ward, purchase of new equipment for the Casualty Department and Operating Theatre, upgrades/renovation of the facilities at the Clinic downtown as well as R90,000 for the Ashton and Zolani Clinics.

The Trust is registered (IT934/1999) and donations are tax deductible.

For further information contact
Colin Smith (Chairman) Tel: 023 614 3210 - smithcol@telkomsa.net
Gavin Soal (Secretary) Tel: 023 614 1172
Molly Soal (Treasurer) Tel: 023 614 1172
Dr George Allwright (Hospital Board Member)

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