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Cahercalla Hospice plea for funds as relatives need PPE to say goodbye

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*Staff nurse, Jackie Allen, Cahercalla Fundraising Manager Mary Maloney and Orna O’Donnell, care assistant. Photograph: John Mangan

COVID-19 has “decimated” fundraising efforts at Cahercalla Community Hospital and Hospice while their costs have increased due to HSE guidelines on protecting residents and staff.

“All our fundraising, everything that we did out in the community is gone because we can’t go out into the community to do our collections,” said Cahercalla Fundraising Manager Mary Maloney.

Everything from golf classics, coffee mornings, flag days, the Easter raffle, annual bed push and street collections to their sunflower day due to take place in early June have been cancelled because of social distancing guidelines.

“It’s very difficult. It has decimated our fundraising here at Cahercalla and the fundraising is an integral part of keeping the hospice going, that’s what’s providing the service,” she commented.

Mary and her team need to fundraise €400,000 a year to keep the community hospital and hospice running. They were also in the middle of fundraising for a €1.5 million accommodation project, which would allow relatives to be with their loved ones in their final hours.

As things stand at the moment, close relatives can come to Cahercalla to say goodbye to their family members at the end of their lives, but everyone in the room has to wear full PPE.

“It’s very difficult. This is history in the making. When I was doing my planning in January for the year, I certainly wasn’t planning on this happening. I don’t think any of us realised how bad it was. We knew it was in China and that it was coming but we didn’t realise that it was going to have such an effect on us and it has taken over the whole world,” Mary said.

The team at Cahercalla purchased some masks at the beginning of the outbreak and have been given some by the HSE. They also received a donation of 1,000 masks from Avolon CEO Domhnal Slattery.

Due to the size of the facility and the amount of staff working there, Mary estimates that they are currently going through more than 300 masks a day.

Their efforts are paying off however, as they have managed to keep Covid-19 away from the door.

“Our main concern here at the moment is keeping Covid-19 out of the hospital which we have been very lucky to be able to do. We have a great team, we have a wonderful General Manager here. It’s a credit to him and all the staff that Covid hasn’t come in to any of our residents,” Mary commented.

That much being said, their need for PPE is not going to let up any time soon. They are hoping to introduce scaled visiting hours in time, but both residents and visitors will have to wear face masks.

When the visiting ban was introduced, Mary purchased tablets and phones so relatives could keep in touch with residents and make sure they are being cared for. They also purchased more thermometers as an extra safety measure. All of this extra cost means they need the public’s help now more than ever.

Mary is appealing to people to join the Cahercalla weekly draw, one of the only sources of fundraising they have left.

“I would appeal to people to join the draw or people who may have joined some years ago and didn’t renew their payment that they maybe come back to us,” Mary said.

The draw will enter its 20th year in the beginning of June. It costs €70 a year for 55 draws. There is a draw every week with two chances to win in each draw. First prize is €650 and second prize is €200.

Payments can be made via standing order, a once off payment, or even a payroll deduction. Some companies in Clare have already joined the payroll deduction scheme and Mary is hoping more will follow suit.

Find the Cahercalla weekly draw brochure here.

Elaine has been a member of staff with The Clare Echo since its foundation in October 2017. The paper's first Chief Reporter, the Kilrush woman is now working as a sub-editor in our busy newsroom. In 2015, she graduated from the University of Limerick with a Masters in Journalism. Elaine briefly worked with the RTE Investigations Unit on the Standards in Public Office investigation before returning to Clare to continue her career as a reporter with the Clare People where she spent nine months as the West Clare correspondent and also covered the 2016 General Election and 2016 Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann.

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