Hello from the Hospital – Issue 1

21 December 2022
Hello from the Hospital – Issue 1

We’re excited to launch the first issue of our newsletter, Hello from the Hospital. In this issue you’ll find updates about how the project’s going and some galleries of photos from the past twelve months.


> Wrapping up a year of contrasts
By Dr Murray Pfeifer, Chair of the Board of Trustees

> Thanks from the GM
By Jim Hurring, General Manager

> Challenges causing delays
By Jim Hurring, General Manager

> Our story, coverage and services, relationship to public health

> We’ve done it, together
Media, Fundraising and Events Committee

> All coming together: milestones and progress
By Boyd Wilson, Construction Project Manager

> Community-led fundraisers

Wrapping up a year of contrasts
By Dr Murray Pfeifer, Chair of the Board of Trustees

Our Board of Trustees.
The Southland Charity Hospital Board of Trustees from left: Chris Menzies, Janet Copeland, Melissa Vining, Neil McAra, Dr Murray Pfeifer (Chair).

2022 has been a year of great contrasts. On the one hand, we have been excited by the way all aspects of the project have progressed.

On the other hand, we had hoped the project would be completed by now and we would be providing desperately needed care to our patients.

Whilst the build has taken longer than anticipated, which our General Manager, Jim Hurring discusses in his article, I want to pay tribute to those who have been involved in the build to date. Their skill, knowledge, and professionalism has been amazing and we are very grateful.

So many have contributed to bringing this project to fruition. Without their support we would have no hospital.
I am pleased to report we are on track for completion around the middle of next year.

We very much look forward to opening the hospital to patients. It will not come a moment too soon as we see waiting lists in the Southern region reaching all-time highs, as shown by the numbers reported by the Southland Times recently (see ‘Challenges causing delays’).

These figures reflect growing pressure on a public system that is under stress. This means there are more and more people in our community needing healthcare they can’t get!

As we get closer to welcoming our first patients, our attention is turning to our volunteers.

Although we have had many people already signing up to help once we become operational, we will always need as many volunteers as we can get. We are seeking volunteers with both clinical and non-clinical skills.

If you would like to join us please register your interest either on our website or by calling the hospital on (03) 216 9477.

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Thanks from the GM
By Jim Hurring, General Manager

I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank our supporters. From those who were part of the “Buy a Brick” campaign, to those who donated their time or money, and to the many groups and organisations who have coordinated community fundraisers.

Special thanks to:

  • the businesses – that have released staff to work on-site, donated their own time, materials, equipment, or parts.
  • the trade leads – their expertise, knowledge, and dedication to completing the complex hospital build, despite the challenges, has been impressive.
  • the many volunteers – who have dedicated their time and effort to the project.
  • our administration team – that has been a massive support to me personally and across several aspects of the project.

It is a privilege to be part of the Southland Charity Hospital team and to witness the project’s progress over the past year.

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Challenges causing delays
By Jim Hurring, General Manager

The expectation that Southland Charity Hospital would have been providing designated health and oral health services by year end for the people of Southland and Otago has not eventuated.

Over the past year we have experienced various challenges which have delayed completion.

The major challenge being the onset of Covid and its impact on materials, labour and shipping delays.

The nature of the project also requires accessing specialist materials and parts from overseas which has presented further delays.

Not only does completion depend on materials such as Gib board, but it also relies on people with the necessary skills to donate their time and efforts to assist with installing electrical cabling, plumbing fixtures, carpentry, or landscaping requirements to name just a few of the required tasks.

In addition to Covid delays, another key factor has been the intense building activity within Invercargill’s central business district. This has resulted in competition for resources, not only affecting our volunteer base, but also meaning contractors are having to juggle obligations to multiple projects, material delays, their staff, and their own time.

Another challenge for our build team has been converting a tavern into a hospital. While the Southland Charity Hospital Trust is indebted to the ILT for donating the Clifton Tavern, a tavern is not designed as a hospital, particularly one that houses a surgical theatre.

It is therefore a credit to the lead trade contractors that they have been able to undertake such a complex project.

Their innovation skills are impressive to watch as they navigate the constraints of the existing building infrastructure.

Despite these challenges, thanks to our contractors, volunteers and through the incredible support we have received from the community, I am confident that Blair Vining’s vision to build a charity hospital will be achieved.

I would also like to acknowledge Melissa, who has been the driving force behind this project. She has garnered a tremendous level of support through her impressive skill set, dedication and empathy.

These are a summary of current patients waiting to be seen, those who have been turned away, and those awaiting surgery according to a recent Southland Times article.

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Our story…

The Southland Charity Hospital Trust was established in 2019 following Blair Vining’s battle with bowel cancer.
Throughout his battle Blair discovered there were serious inequities within New Zealand’s healthcare system and many people weren’t able to access the care they deserved.

Blair decided something needed to be done and one of his greatest legacies will be the formation of the Southland Charity Hospital.

Coverage and Services

Ultimately, the hospital is being built to assist the many people in the Otago and Southland region who are currently unable to access health services. That is, patients who have been declined diagnostic testing through the public health system who do not have the means to afford private health care in a timely manner.

Initially, the hospital will provide colonoscopies and dental services at no cost to the patient.

The numbers on the previous page indicate how urgent the need for colonoscopies is in the South. Providing patients with timely diagnoses will enable more immediate treatment if required, especially for potential life-threatening conditions.

Likewise, providing dental services acknowledges the largely unmet need for these services in our community.
Once the colonoscopy and dental services have been established we intend to expand to include other day surgical services such as hernias, lumps and bumps, and skin lesions.

The way the Southland Charity Hospital has been set up means that our clinical committee will meet regularly to review the services we offer and ensure we continue to deliver services that meet the needs of the Otago and Southland community.

This means in the future the hospital will evolve as the health needs of the community change.

Relationship to public health

The Southland Charity Hospital has developed an informal relationship with Southland Public Hospital and hopes to extend this to the Dunedin Public Hospital. Our service is not in competition with either of these, but rather, we understand the extreme pressure both organisations are under at times. The charity hospital exists to provide health services, where possible, that public hospitals are unable to provide for whatever reason.

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We’ve done it, together
Media, Fundraising and Events Committee

Our current Media, Fundraising and Events Committee.
The Media, Fundraising and Events Committee from left – Back row: Emma Strang, Aileen Findlater, Phil Robinson. Front row: Kyliee Fisher, Allison Robinson, Nicky Phillipson. Absent: Melissa Vining

It’s hard to sum up the year and do justice to the many people who have been involved in the fundraising events we’ve held, but we’ll give it a go.

Our small yet mighty Media, Fundraising and Events Committee has had another busy one this year.

After achieving the $4 million construction cost target late last year the team was tasked with raising the $1 million needed for medical equipment and major assets to fit out the hospital.

We were given an early boost with grants from Community Trust South and Otago Community Trust, but we had to think outside the box to raise the remaining funds needed.

With the help of Ford New Zealand and Regional Ford in Gore we were given the opportunity to give away a Mustang by running a prize draw. To say we had huge support for this was an understatement, with people buying tickets from all over the world.

The raffle was due to be drawn on what would have been Blair’s 42nd birthday so we knew we had to wrap it up on a huge high.

We started the day with The Rock’s Morning Rumble, who flew down to help us give away our Mustang.

The Rumble crew drew the winner live on air and Melissa Vining phoned our winner, a stunned Vaughan Henderson, to let him know he’d won.

Our team was so excited to give the car away and super excited to hear our winner worked at Southland Hospital and could come down to collect his prize straight away. It was such an emotional high to hand over the keys, see Vaughan jump behind the wheel, and hear that engine roar into life as he drove away.

The celebrations didn’t end there though. Later that day we were joined by over 200 people, including several special guests, for our Cruisin’ Southland car run. The convoy of vehicles weaved their way around Invercargill, out to Winton, then circled back to end at Ascot Park Hotel just in time for the evening’s epic Glory Days event.

A couple of months later we held our annual fundraiser: Red, Black and White Day. This year we introduced a new supporter’s ribbon and some additional pieces to our jewellery collection.

As well as our regular casual Friday activities, this year we also held colouring in and music video competitions.
Using Hauroko Valley Primary’s version of Rugby Southland’s anthem “The Southern Dream” we asked schools to record a music video.

Meanwhile, Breidi McStay, the team from the Southern Institute of Technology, and Stan from Black Feather Studio travelled the lower South and contacted celebrities to create our own version.

We’re so grateful to everyone who was involved in creating this, we absolutely love it.

We’d like to thank Rugby Southland for sharing their song with us, Jason Kerrison for generously giving his time to record the song, and Hauroko Valley Primary School for their awesome lyrics.

Another big event on our fundraising calendar this year was wrapping up our hugely successful “Buy a Brick” campaign; having sold an incredible 11,322 bricks and 674 plaques over the past three years.

The first pallets of bricks started arriving mid-year and we can’t wait to see them all laid out and read the beautiful messages.

So far we’ve talked about our fundraisers, but we couldn’t do this without the many community-led fundraisers, both large and small. Check out the very small selection of photos from community-led fundraisers at the end of this post.

It is our pleasure to be able to announce that thanks to the efforts, donations, and support of our community we’ve reached our $1 million goal for medical equipment and major assets and have raised over $5 million for the project so far.

We will require on-going funding to cover operational costs, but we’re absolutely thrilled to have reached such an incredible milestone that will allow the hospital to open and help patients in the Otago and Southland areas from next year.

Over the past year we've held 4 key fundraisers, there have been hundreds of community-led fundraisers, and together we've raised over $1 million this year and over $5 million to date.

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All coming together: milestones and progress
Boyd Wilson, Construction Project Manager

While 2021 saw the completion of the building’s structure, this year has seen things really kick into gear on the inside. Over the past year our build teams have reached several important milestones.

On the outside of the building our plumbing teams have been kept very busy continuing their work throughout the site, and exterior site works have started with the clearing of vegetation and setting site levels to enable the landscaping to get underway.

Perhaps one of the most important milestones for the project as a whole has been enclosing the building. The roofers and bricklayers have done a fantastic job completing the exterior cladding and making the building watertight.

Once that was completed our internal teams got underway in earnest.

Kilometres of electrical and data cable has been run throughout the building. The quantum of cable in such a small space is unbelievable and is a testament to the patience and skill of those involved in putting it all in.

Plumbing and medical gas reticulation has been completed, which is another significant milestone for the project. The delays in delivery of specialised materials and the complexity of the systems have made these aspects of the build extremely challenging for all involved.

Once installed, all reticulation passed a stringent testing regime without issue. This once again demonstrates the skill and dedication of all those involved and the high standard of their work.

Our heating, ventilation and air conditioning ducting installation has also been completed, which allows the wall linings and ceiling work to begin.

The interior design team has also been able to get into the building and sort the colour palette for all interior finishes and furnishings.

Their vision was implemented by the Mitre 10 Mega Helping Hands Project team back in June, when they came down to site to fit out and paint the Mitre 10 Mega Community Room. This was the first room to be completed. It looks fantastic and gives everyone a great insight into how the rest of the hospital will look when it’s finished.

This year has been a huge effort by all involved with many prioritising work on the hospital site over other work commitments they have. Without this ongoing support the Southland Charity Hospital project could not happen so I’d like to thank every volunteer who has given their time this year.

Over the past year we have had to navigate material supply issues and shortages, shipping delays, and work around the high demand of tradespeople. Despite this we have seen huge progress and it has been wonderful seeing everything starting to come together.

Over the coming months we will be moving into the final phase of the project with Gib stopping and painting starting, exterior site works continuing, construction of interior joinery, and fit out of the building’s service and medical equipment. At this stage we expect the building will be completed and commissioned, ready for service, in the second quarter of next year.

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Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

These are a small selection of photos from the many fundraisers held this year.

Thank you to every single individual, business, organisation, and club who have donated their time, talents, and funding to support the Southland Charity Hospital this year. We couldn’t do this without you all!

We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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Shop & support local with a beautiful piece of Southland Charity Hospital jewellery.

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