Introducing board chairman, Dr Murray Pfeifer

23 August 2020
Introducing board chairman, Dr Murray Pfeifer

Our board chairman, Dr Murray Pfeifer, is hugely respected within the medical community here in the deep south. We feel incredibly privileged to have him serve as board chairman for the Southland Charity Hospital. Dr Pfeifer arrived at Southland Hospital soon after graduating from medical school. Aside from brief stints in the United Kingdom and Dunedin, he has spent the rest of his career – more than four decades – at Southland Hospital. A pioneer of breast cancer care in the southern region, his expertise has been invaluable in the formation of our charity hospital. We asked Dr Murray Pfeifer why he wanted to be part of our cause.


Dr Murray Pfeifer

Occupation and professional background

General surgeon

Roles held with the Southland Charity Hospital Trust

Board chairman

How did you hear about plans to create the charity hospital?

Like many others, I heard of plans to create the charity hospital in 2019. Blair and Melissa Vining’s story was one that captured the attention of almost everybody in New Zealand. This hospital will be a lasting tribute to the late Blair Vining.

What compelled you to become involved in this cause?

As a general surgeon, I have been working in both public and private practice in this community for 40 years. I’m proud of the achievements of the existing health services in Southland. However, in my day-to-day practice I am constantly aware of our inability to provide for the health needs of many of our people. Over a number of years, I have had a close association with the Canterbury Charity Hospital. I have felt inspired by their achievements in addressing the unmet need in that community. I’m excited about the prospect of being involved in a similar facility for the benefit of our people here in southern New Zealand.

What are your hopes or goals for our charity hospital?

I hope the Southland Charity Hospital is able to address some of the needs of our community that are currently not being met. I hope we can provide healthcare for those from Southland and Otago in a timely manner, in order to optimise their health outcomes.

Why is the work being done by the charity hospital so crucial?

A number of people throughout Southland and Otago are unable to access the healthcare they need, either through the public or private health systems. The Southland Charity Hospital will give those people the opportunity to get diagnostic tests and treatment they otherwise wouldn’t be able to access.

How will the Southland Charity Hospital make a difference in our community?

The south of New Zealand has one of the highest incidences of bowel cancer in the country. By initially focusing on this area of need, the charity hospital will be able to address a particularly concerning area of healthcare requirements. After working to address this, the charity hospital – with its flexible, agile structure – will then be able to look at addressing the next area of concern. The charity hospital, once established, will enhance both the physical and the mental wellbeing of the many that it will serve. For some it will be lifesaving.

If the Southland Charity Hospital did not exist, what would life look like for people in our community?

My hope is that health outcomes in Southland and Otago will benefit immensely from the formation of the charity hospital. Our communities need to be able to access early diagnosis and treatment in order to ensure people can lead long, healthy lives.

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