Who, or what is BHAG?
You might have heard the acronym, or seen our volunteers in the gardens around the hospital and wondered who, or what is BHAG?
Well, the Bellinger Health Action Group, or BHAG, was formed in November 2009. We are a not-for-profit community organisation which was established as a result of a very real threat to the continued existence of the Bellinger River District Hospital.
On hearing rumours of closure, the community embarked on a campaign to save the hospital, raising funds with raffles and events, contacting local media, and meeting with NSW Health and politicians to plead the case for our hospital. There was even a demonstration and “unauthorised” street march which held up traffic on Waterfall Way!
As a result of the community’s action, our hospital was saved and BHAG continues its involvement as a representative of community interests. Some of our contributions to the hospital being:
Re-roofing the hospital – at a Special General Meeting of BHAG Financial Members in February 2013 a motion was successfully moved that $35,000 of existing donated funds be allocated towards re-roofing the hospital with NSW Health contributing the balance of funds required.
Details here: New Roofs for our hospital
The Wellness Garden – In August 2014 BHAG was successful in its application for a $5,000 grant from the Bellingen Shire Council Environmental Levy. The project was to landscape the areas surrounding the new Sub-Acute Wing. The initial grant was boosted to a total in-kind value of $90,797 with community, local business and service organisation contributions.
Details here: The Wellness Garden
Solar Hot Water for Hartley House – in June 2015 Bellingen Hospital celebrate the installation of a solar hot water system for Hartley House, and thanked the members of the community responsible for pushing the project to completion – a 9 year process.
Details here: Hartley House Solar Hot Water
Visiting Medical Officer – more recently, BHAG has been active in discussions with MNCLH to ensure that sufficient VMOs are recruited to enable the BRDH Emergency Department to continue 7 day a week services. A public meeting was held to discuss the issue, and a Getup Petition was organised by Kevin Doye, co-owner of Kombu. The petition currently stands at 3,983 signatories.
Details here: VMO Campaign
Gardening Volunteers –our group of volunteers continues to garden bi-weekly at the hospital and has done so since the first gardening bee in June 2010. As of today, the group has contributed an impressive 3,075 gardening hours.
Visit the gardening blog here: Volunteer Gardeners
Funding – our funding currently comes from the collection tins you see around town in various supporting businesses, and from the occasional donation, such as the recent and very generous donation of $500 by the Randall family of Bellingen Cellars at the top end of town.
BHAG continues to engage with the community in line with its’ stated objective of “developing the process of consultation about future health care delivery in the local community”, and we would be happy to hear from hospital staff and members of the community on any issue of concern.