Shade and serenity: Lions donate much-needed shelters to Biloela Hospital

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By Jen Gourley

Hospitals can be busy places and sometimes they can be stressful places. For patients, families and staff members, having somewhere peaceful to unwind, destress or just relax and get some fresh air is so important.

For many years, decades even, the rose garden at Biloela Hospital has been a special place, lovingly tended, where people could go outside and enjoy the beauty of nature. However, there was not much in the way of seating, nowhere for people to take the weight off their feet, or take the weight off their mind, for a few moments.

That has changed now with two marvellous shelters erected out the front of the hospital, with a table and benches, wheelchair access on pathways that loop right around, and taps added to keep the rose garden and areas around the shelters looking fresh and green.

These pergolas were kindly donated by the Callide Valley Lions Club. This project was in the making for well over 18 months and today the shelters, with smart red ribbons wrapped around them, were officially opened.

It was a very special ceremony, with raindrop-covered roses adding pops of colour underneath grey and gloomy skies. Donna K Cruickshank, Executive Director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health & Wellbeing, was MC, and Gangalu elders Aunty Rosie Hoffman, Uncle Phillip Toby and Aunty Lyn Blucher were in attendance to perform a Welcome to Country, a traditional smoking ceremony, and provide insightful information about the local area. Everyone was invited to take part in the smoking ceremony for a chance to heal and cleanse and walk away with a sense of peace.

Col Neville, President of the Callide Valley Lions Club, speaking at the opening this morning, said when the club approached Biloela Hospital staff about having shelters near the rose garden, ‘yes was the resounding answer’. So, the Lions Club put the wheels into motion and after much consultation and planning and support from Biloela Hospital staff, the shelters, styled on the ones at Lions Park, were constructed.

“We want to thank Fitzpatrick Constructions, and Kerry Lynch Concrete, the workers, contractors, everybody who was responsible for putting together the structures, the seats and the path that you see before you,” Col said. “I’d like to thank our Lions members, and our volunteers who helped raise the funds to put this project together.”

Bruce Burrows, Life Member of the Callide Valley Lions Club, was the coordinator of the pergola project, and he was delighted with the outcome.

“I think it’s a great facility and with all of these things, all that’s mentioned is about how much it costs when really what it amounts to is the value,” Bruce said. “I think that value can be seen and will be seen in the people that use this facility, whether they be patients, staff or visitors, and the look on their faces and hopefully their smiles as they walk around, we’ll really appreciate.

“I think the ultimate reward would be if occasionally, now and again, one of them stops along the way and looks around and says, ‘I think the Lions did a bloody good job here’.”

Biloela Hospital’s Director of Nursing, Bernadette Vasiliadis, then spoke about the many benefits of having the shelters at the front of the hospital. These included having somewhere outdoors for the hospital’s long-stay patients to be able to enjoy, and a pleasant place where people could wait for family members.

“I’d also like to reflect on midwifery and birthing,” Bernadette said. “There have been many women walk around this rose garden for generations, waiting on babies while they’ve been in labour. That will continue but now the women will be able to stop and sit or lean and breathe as they need to.”

“The fact that we’ve now got these pergolas for people to sit and enjoy and look at the garden is just fantastic. We really appreciate that.”

Then it was time to cut the ribbons around the two shelters and fortunately Jenni Sinclair, Biloela Hospital’s Administration Officer, happened to be carrying a trusty pair of scissors. Col cut the ribbon on the first shelter and Bruce cut the ribbon on the second.

Once the formalities were over, everyone was invited for a lovely morning tea, and it seemed the general consensus was that the Lions Club had actually done ‘a bloody good job here’.

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