Alice Springs Hospice
It all started 24 years ago with a plea from Di Byrnes, prominent tourism figure at Ayers Rock and Glen Helen and mayoral aspirant local identity. Di was dying from cancer in Port Macquarie, thousands of kilometers’ from The Centre which she loved, but which had no dedicated palliative care facility. Surrounded by friends and her sister, Ms Byrnes told them: “You have to get one.”
This week her dying wish became reality, after ceaseless “humbugging” by three of her friends, Sandra Clyne and Mary Miles, and latterly Lesley Reilly, as Senator Nigel Scullion admiringly described it as he officially opened the Ampere Amantye-Akeme Multi-purpose facility in Alice Springs. The Arrernte name for the facility means “Comfort House”. Senator Scullion went on to say, “It was a great example of “ the people” getting their way, against political and bureaucratic abstinence”.
A community based palliative service, the Palliative Care NT, Central Australian branch, was formed soon after the death of Ms Byrnes, but patients were accommodated in two beds in the medical ward of the Alice Springs Hospital. The Alice Springs Hospital Board and the now disbanded Central Australian Hospital Network Governing Hospital supported the decision of the incumbent government at the time to funding a multi-purpose facility.
This is the first dedicated palliative care facility in the region and it includes private garden spaces and a bush medicine garden with rooms opening up to a patio area.” The facility is a freestanding 10-bed facility in the hospital grounds, built at a cost of $6.3m, including $1m from the NT Government. The facility will provide dedicated inpatient end-of-life care, but also includes the option of respite care to support families who wish to continue to care for their loved ones at home. The facility has the capacity to accommodate a support person overnight. The Centre’s staff include an eight-member community service team and eleven new nursing positions.