Staff at three of the region’s private hospitals swapped scrubs for flannos on Tuesday as a show of support for drought-stricken farmers.
Funds raised at the lunches at Wollongong, Figtree and Lawrence Hargrave private hospitals – and at all Ramsay Health Care hospitals this month – will be matched dollar for dollar by the hospital operator and donated to Rural Aid.
It’s part of a wider strategy by Ramsay to help struggling farmers – and includes a six-month waiver of excess fees and co-payments at its 73 facilities nationwide for eligible primary producers.
“Ramsay Health Care is trying to give back to the community, particularly in regional and rural areas,” Wollongong Private Hospital CEO David Crowe said.
“That includes matching the funds raised at staff fundraising lunches throughout September to help farmers get through this drought.
“And it includes waiving excess fees for those who present to hospital for treatment from October 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019, which could save them anywhere from $250 to $1000 depending on their cover.
“It just gives them a bit of relief and makes it easier for them to access the treatments they need.”
The offer will be available to people who are privately insured, whose farm is located in a drought-declared area and who receive the Federal Government’s Farm Household Allowance.
“The lack of rain is having a severe impact across NSW and parts of Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia,” Ramsay Health Care Australia CEO, Danny Sims, said.
“As an organisation, it is important to contribute to relief efforts – our motto at Ramsay Health Care is People Caring for People, and that includes farming people.
“Coming to hospital can often be a stressful time for people under normal circumstances, let alone for primary producers who are undergoing testing times through no fault of their own.
“We want to make it easier for drought-affected families to seek the care they need.”
Mr Sims said Ramsay was also delivering mental health assistance to farming communities.
“The drought is not only leading to financial stress for primary producers but is also taking a toll on the state of their mental health. We want to offer our support to help alleviate some of this burden.”
Mr Sims said the funds from staff lunches would assist Rural Aid’s Buy A Bale campaign.
“Our employees are already dedicated to helping patients who need treatment within our facilities,” he said. “Hosting this series of lunches across the country gives us all an opportunity to assist farmers beyond the boundaries of our hospitals and clinics.”