Friends of Portlaoise Hospital working away

The Friends Of Portlaoise Hospital have been busy making improvements for patients in the hospital.

The Friends Of Portlaoise Hospital have been busy making improvements for patients in the hospital.

The group, who have been supporting the hospital for over 20 years, have purchased a state of the art delivery bed for the admission suite in maternity, and 13 flat screen televisions, one for each room in the medical ward.

The Friends of Portlaoise Hospital was formed in April 1991 and, to this day, quietly continue to bring new patient comforts into the hospital each year.

“In April 1991, the nurses called a meeting in the hospital to see if something could be done. As my daughter worked in the hospital, I was brought along to the meeting,” Dick Sydes, chairman explained.

Michael Parsons became the first chairman of the group with Mr Sydes taking on the role the following year.

Secretary, Elaine McGinn and Treasurer Norrie Thornton have also been involved since day one, and are now supported by the assitant treasurer, Sheila Bowden.

“We’re down to just seven members on the committee now, but we’re working away in the background quietly all the time,” Mr Sydes explained.

They rely heavily on donations and bequeathed donations and hold just one fundraiser every year.

“We have an annual Christmas draw where we sell tickets in the hospital. Last Christmas, my granddaughter, Aoife Reams, and her Transition Year companions in Scoil Críost Ri sold the €2 tickets and made a profit of €2,500. After paying out the prize money we usually come in with around that figure every year, it goes to show you how generous and supportive people are,” Mr Sydes said.

“We’re grateful for all the donations people send us, we had one lady whose husband passed away in the hospital who donated €1,000 and another lady who donated €80, but every €1 that is donated helps us.”

On this occasion, the friends spent over €15,000, as the bed for the maternity unit cost €10,641.35 and the 13 televisions cost a total of €4,500.

“Different departments look for different things. The secretary will bring the request to the committee and we will decide whether it’s possible to fulfill their request or not. It depends on money - how much the thing costs or how much we have to spend. Sometimes we could have requests from two or three departments at the same time, and it is not always possible to fulfill them all.

“Two or three years ago we did up the mortuary at the hospital. It was gone a bit dilapidated looking, so we got new curtains and one of the local undertakers painted the building. We just made it a bit more respectful for bereaved families.

“We find that when you get a request from one department, you will get three or four from other departments. But we are doing nicely. All monies are ploughed back into the hospital in patient comforts and gratefully appreciated,” Mr Sydes added.