August 2010

Warm greetings from the ARCH desk.

Well, six months have now elapsed since the last ARCH update, and I’d like to share with you what an incredible period this has proven to be. Auckland Regional Charity hospital has moved from being simply an idea backed by a group of dedicated people, to being a functioning service meeting some of the huge unmet medical need in our Auckland community.

To date we have received around 80 referrals. These have all been concerning patients declined access to the public system because of waitlist-management reasons. ARCH has seen 52 new patients for initial consultations, and carried out 35 operations at 5 facilities on the North Shore – Southern Cross Hospital Glenfield, The Northern Surgical Centre, Rodney Surgical Centre and Shore Surgery, as well as procedure rooms in Milford. Three patients were seen and assessed, but did not require surgery. Three patients were successfully redirected to the public system, and one patient was deemed eligible for ACC cover, so was referred on to ACC.

The types of conditions we have treated include hernias, cataracts, urinary incontinence, pilonidal sinuses, excision of huge lipomas and cysts, laparoscopic cholecystectomies, surgery for male gynaecomastia, haemorrhoids, varicose veins and the investigation of rectal bleeding with gastroscopy and colonoscopy – all conditions that can significantly affect an individual’s quality of life. Yet each one of the patients we have seen has been declined treatment through the public system, and has had no other options available to them, save for ARCH.

To date this surgery has involved some 10 surgeons and 10 anaethetists – all of whom have given of their time freely. I am confident however, that more medical professionals will join our initiative; many have already indicated their willingness to be involved.

The total cost to ARCH to perform these procedures has been $22 000, with our administrative costs being approximately $2000. This of course has only been possible because the legal, accounting and auditing work has been done pro bono.

It is sobering to note that the total value of the procedures performed -were they to have been done privately – would have been around $110 000! This gives us a staggering goodwill to dollar-spent ratio of 5:1, meaning that for every dollar spent by ARCH, 5 dollars of value (in the way of donated goods and services) is being returned to the community.

There is of course a cost involved in using the private facilities mentioned above. This is largely related to cost of consumables used, and this is currently being met by funds raised from donations and grants.

We have also employed an administrator to deal with the ever increasing load of admin that this rapidly growing venture is generating, and to this end we are seeking funding for her salary. It is worth noting that the administrator is the only individual who receives a salary from ARCH – everyone else, from medical staff, to directors, to fundraisers etc, is working in a volunteer capacity.

There has been significant media interest in our venture recently. To access this coverage, see the following links:

Free surgery rejected Auckland patients

Radio New Zealand Morning Report, 13 August 2010

‘Charity hospitals’ last hope for hundreds of patients

To keep on with the work we are doing, and to fulfill our ultimate goal of providing a dedicated facility for the people of Auckland, we need funds and dedicated people. If you are able, please give generously of either your time or money.

In the end it is the sheer gratitude of the patients we have assisted that reminds us why this initiative is so worthwhile. ARCH is about a community stepping forward to help those in need.

Kind regards, as always

Fiona Sussman
Director ARCH