The Phoenix Lodge No 43

A Hospital for Akaroa

The rising pitch of the sirens awakens the senses. It’s a 111 call for help and the Akaroa emergency services are being alerted, the volunteers are on notice.

What will it be? Medical emergency? A fire? A rescue? Or perhaps a dramatic road accident requiring a full turn-out? Whatever it is, help is needed, and needed fast. In response the Volunteer Fire Brigade must be ready, ready for anything, and that readiness includes the support services.

There’s always a doctor on duty/call-out and they can only guess what that siren sound means, it might be a straight medical emergency or perhaps involve some mountaineering skills to access a vehicle over the side of the road and down the hill. The windy hill road to Akaroa is not for the faint-hearted! And that’s the best of the hundreds of kilometers of Peninsula roads.

Up until the earthquakes of 2011 Akaroa had a highly respected hospital and although not equipped to the standard of the city hospitals, filled an important gap in local medical support. Besides the 24 hour service, there were beds for overnight cases and respite care. Many speak highly of their recuperation at Akaroa having been sent there after medical procedures in Christchurch.

Since that fateful earthquake day Akaroa health services have had to make do, shifting their base as space became available. Pompellier House, a retirement rest home, was pressed into service to fill the gap but its days are numbered. Adding to the pressure is the influx of cruise vessels unable to use Lyttelton, often bring more than 10,000 extra people to the harbour. Thus the normal population of 600, swollen to some 4,000 with summer vacationers, increases to over 14,000; that brings many problems as a good percentage of visitors are older people. One comment put the incident rate at averaging more than three per day during the summer/cruise ship period.

Artist's impression of the proposed Health Hub at AkaroaAkaroa Health Hub

This Health Hub is not just for the few locals, the need is to cater for the visitors who provide the majority of emergency call-outs, to make it safer for everyone, whether on one day or short stay visits, emergencies don’t know the difference.

Add to that the congestion on the roads in and around the Bays, and to and from the City. The pressure on the health facilities can be huge. Akaroa and the Peninsula folk have banded together to push for a restoration of the Akaroa Hospital and while this will not be fully realised, the local DHB has agreed to build a Health Hub, provided the local community chip in with some $3 million.

Thus the Akaroa Community Health Trust. has been established to which The Phoenix Lodge No 43 has contribute some $50.577.

Acknowledgement of the commitment is in the name of Freemasons New Zealand.

The Phoenix Lodge No 43 mission statement is to be “A Robust Member of the Akaroa/Banks Peninsula Community”. All money raised was from Masonic sources, both from Freemasons as individuals and from Freemasons Chaitable Trusts.

 

Akaroa Community Health Trust, the funding body for the proposed Akaroa Health Hub, is a registered charity; Registration number: CC50204.

 

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