Tears fall with palliative care centre announcement
Tears were in abundance when the team behind the Elsie's retreat campaign were at the Woy Woy waterfront on February 15 to hear the Labor Party pledge support for a palliative centre on the Peninsula.
The tears fell because this has been a fight for a community facility for dying people.
It has been a fight punctuated by the deaths of people needing palliative care, such as Anna Edgell who died on December 1 last year with terminal breast cancer.
Ms Edgell was a driving force behind the campaign for Elsie's retreat, a campaign started after another Central Coast nurse, Elsie, needed a palliative care hospice but died in a nursing home.
In an interview with the Peninsula News last year, Ms Edgell said: "If I can continue another nurse's legacy and help achieve the dream of the Coast's first palliative facility, then that is the best gift I can give my daughter, showing her that the world is full of strong women.
"May we know them, may we raise them, may we be them."
Ms Rebecca Baldwin, who did chemotherapy with Ms Edgell and is now in remission, said that even Anna's last days were spent championing Elsie's Retreat so she could help people beyond her own life.
"As she is no longer here, I want to make sure I can help her legacy become a reality and help the families of the Central Coast have their loved ones cared for with comfort and dignity at the end of their life."
Physiotherapist Ms Phoebe Alexander, who joined other health professionals last year in urging locals to sign the petition for the retreat, was one of many people who went along to hear the announcement.
She said last year that only when the hospice was built would the community receive the relief and comfort health professionals should be able to provide.
Elsie's Retreat committee member Ms Oana Mcbride, who took up Elsie's dream, spoke at the announcement.
"Today I can look up and say to my friends Elsie and Anna, they listened. They listened to our community they listened to me. They listened to you.
"I am standing here in place of my friend Elsie. Elsie had a vision to close the gap in health care infrastructure.
"Creating choice for our community, her vision, as was Anna's, was to create a stand-alone palliative care hospice.
"Elsie never had a chance to access this service but she left her dream to me, my journey brought me to Lions and a fabulous group of people that make up not only Elsie's Retreat project committee but a dedicated group of over 37 people who make the Lions Club of Wyoming East Gosford Centennial.
"The amazing mentor and friend, past district Governor Margaret Pierce, who on that very first day that Elsie's dream said 'where there is Lion there is a way'. "
Ms McBride called on both sides of politics to match the funding and the promise.
On social media, co-founder of National Centre for Childhood Grief Mr Mal McKissock congratulated Ms McBride but offered a word of warning.
"I was deputy director of a 100-bed hospice and thereafter have run a charity for bereaved children for the past 40 years. It is with that experience I remain cautious,'' he said.
"I started the charity (without government funding ever) after experiencing the political interference.
"Every change of government. And every change of Health Minister there was a change in policy and funding arrangements.
"It's the small print which matters not the political rhetoric. I have cared for numerous dying people on the Coast and was at their side, in their own home when they died.
"I certainly appreciate the need we have on the Coast.
"I commend you and the team for your thoughtfulness, energy and persistence.
"It is the people power that will get the job done. Thank you for all you are doing,'' he said.
In response to the call for both sides of politics to commit to the funding, Member for Robertson Ms Lucy Wicks said she was "extremely motivated" to see better healthcare on the Central Coast, including in palliative care services.
"There is no doubt that this is an important project for our community and for the Central Coast that has been brought about by the incredible advocacy behind the Elsie's Retreat Petition that has been circulated around the Coast,'' she said.
"Funding for our local hospitals and health services has grown by over 77 per cent in the last five years, with $240 million put into health on the Central Coast last year.''
She said the Federal Government had made a $48 million investment locally to a Central Coast Medical School and Medical Research Institute - a commitment she was proud of and she would have more to say about her health plan for the Coast in coming months.
Media release, 15 Feb 2019
Walt Secord, State Shadow Health Minister
Media release 19 Feb 2019
Lucy Wicks, Member for Robertson
Social Media, 21 Feb 2019
Interview, 20 Feb 2019
Reporter: Merilyn Vale