In the scrum for funds that characterises an increasingly competitive charity sector, having an ambassador of the calibre of Peter O’Mahony is just what the doctor ordered.
The Munster and Ireland rugby legend has just been unveiled as the Cork University Hospital (CUH) Charity brand ambassador where a number of key projects will be the focus of his attention.
One of those is the provision of a long-awaited paediatric hospital.
“I think Cork needs a paediatric hospital, there’s a lot of work to be done as regards the children’s ward and children’s hospital...it’s now about funding and getting things done,” Peter said.
His sentiments were echoed by Gerry O’Dwyer, CEO of the South/SouthWest hospital group, who said “one of our biggest challenges at the moment is to try and unify paediatrics on one site here in the hospital to ensure that children get the quantum of care they deserve in the region”.
“The charity is so important to get that moving for us,” Mr O’Dwyer said.
A €13m out-patient unit was unveiled in 2017 by then Taoiseach Enda Kenny, but no money has so far been forthcoming from government for a desperately-needed 80-bed paediatric inpatient development.
Meanwhile, funds continue to be pumped into the new national children’s hospital in Dublin, which could yet cost €2bn.
Michael Nason, chief executive of the CUH Charity, said the need for a new paediatric hospital at CUH had been “very much called for” and planned for a number of years, but hadn’t come to fruition.
Other key projects the charity intends to focus on include:
- achieving a European accredited stroke unit. The unit currently has 9 beds with a plan to increase to 25. It was due to expand its thrombectomy (clot-busting) service from 9am-5pm to 24/7 this month, but needs to fill a staff position first.
- creating a more comfortable space and a world-class service for oncology patients. Mr Nason said the current cramped space, where patients waiting for day treatment spill out into the corridor, needed to be “ripped apart”. He said an investment of up to €3m was needed.
- creation of a men’s health department. Mr Nason said there were “lots of elements of men’s health across the hospital but we don’t have a coordinated department”.
- creation of an end-of-life outdoor “sanctum” at the maternity hospital (CUMH) where patients and their families could spend quality time together.
Mr Nason said Peter’s appointment was part of an overall strategy for the charity to strengthen its position to assist in delivery of key projects vital to the Cork/Munster region. The strategy will include the offer of branding or naming rights to donors.
He said the children’s hospital project was a classic example of the possibility of having your name “up there for doing something good”.
Mr Nason, former Tesco marketing director and former chief executive of Musgraves, said their fundraising would be local, national and international, and that they would engage with companies, communities and individuals.
Brendan O’Reilly, acting chief executive of CUH said having Peter on board would bolster the charity considerably.
“With your local, regional, national and international stature, it brings a different dimension to what the charity can do," he said.
Peter, who is also patron of the Dogs for the Disabled charity, is undertaking the role of brand ambassador on a purely voluntary basis.