people sitting to the side of a room looking at a woman talking

Nambucca Heads UHA President Michelle O'Keefe did a superb job hosting, with her executive, the 2023 North East Regional Conference. Guests included North East Regional Representative Dee Hunter, Coffs Clinical Network Coordinator Lydia Dennett, Macksville Executive Officer Andrew Bailey, and MNCLHD CE Stewart Dowrick.

UHA’s successful North East Conference

Mar 31, 2023
This article was published 1 year ago.

A highly successful 2023 North East Regional Conference for Mid North Coast hospital volunteers has taken place at Nambucca Heads RSL Club, attracting 50 delegates and guests.

The United Hospital Auxiliaries of NSW members represented branches from the Camden Haven to Coffs Harbour, and west to Dorrigo.

Hosted by the Nambucca Heads UHA, the conference was an outstanding success; and an opportunity for Mid North Coast Local Health District Chief Executive Stewart Dowrick to offer his sincere gratitude for the UHA’s support.

Mr Dowrick said the past three years had been challenging, but throughout fire, flood and pandemic, the UHA volunteers had supported Mid North Coast hospitals, their staff and patients.

He thanked the UHA members for giving more than 40,000 volunteer hours to local hospitals in the past year, a remarkable effort when much of the year’s activities were impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.

The Coffs Clinical Network Coordinator and Coffs Harbour Health Campus General Manager, Lydia Dennett, was also present, and made sure the volunteers knew their hard work was appreciated.

She added that the volunteers were part of the Mid North Coast Health family, adding the kindness and generosity of the UHA members made an enormous difference to staff and patients.

Macksville District Hospital Executive Officer and Director of Nursing and Midwifery Andrew Bailey spoke of the life-saving equipment donated to his hospital by the UHA and the very real impact that equipment had on the lives of patients and their families.

Guest speaker was Jan Thomas, whose father, Macksville doctor Bernie Hindmarsh, was on the wartime hospital ship Centaur. The ship was torpedoed by the Japanese off the Queensland coast on 14 May 1943, killing 268 people, including seven doctors and 11 nurses.

Her speech was a stark reminder of the price paid by many Australians during war and the injustice of an attack on an unarmed medical ship.

The ever-present concerns about volunteer recruitment were also raised during an address from State President Tracy Wilkinson, delivered by North East Regional Representative Dee Hunter.

The NSW President made it clear that everyone who visits a hospital, benefits from the UHA’s hard work, including younger members of the community who she hoped would embrace an opportunity to volunteer with the 90-year-old organisation.

Following a regional report from Dee Hunter, which highlighted the $394,612 in equipment gifted to local hospitals by local UHA members in the past year, branch presidents delivered their reports.

Bellingen, Dorrigo, Coffs, BowraMacksville, Nambucca, Kempsey, Camden Haven, Port Macquarie and Wauchope delegates touched on the challenges they have faced in the past 12 months, but mostly spoke of the remarkable determination of members to give back to their communities through their local public hospitals.

From bladder scanners, electric beds and an ultrasound to clothing and fleecy comfort throws, the volunteers of the United Hospital Auxiliaries have made, and continue to make, an enormous contribution to patient care and wellbeing on the Mid North Coast.

Regional UHA Representative Ms Hunter congratulated the Nambucca Heads branch on what was an outstanding conference, emceed by the branch’s hardworking president Michelle O’Keefe.

To view more photos from today’s conference, please click on the centre of the photo below and scroll through the library.


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