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Braemar Charitable Trust a key partner in South Waikato Community Hauora Day

HAUORA DAY: Pictured at the South Waikato haoura day, from left, Braemar Hospital surgeon Jasen Ly who provided free procedures; Paula Baker, Braemar Charitable Trust Manager, and Akarere Henry, CEO of South Waikato Pacific Islands Community Services Trust which organised the day.

The charity that owns Braemar Hospital, one of the largest private hospitals in New Zealand, has provided free surgical procedures for South Waikato people at a local community hauora (health) day.

 The Braemar Charitable Trust, the 100% owner of Braemar Hospital, undertakes a range of charitable activities, including community surgeries, to help improve health in the Waikato region. Many surgeons and anaesthetists who are credentialed to work at Braemar Hospital donate their time, free; Braemar Hospital provides consumable items at cost, and the Trust covers other costs such as surgical items, consumables, drugs and nursing care.

 The Trust helped get the 9 March South Waikato Community Hauora Day off the ground. The free community event, co-ordinated by the South Waikato Pacific Islands Community Services Trust, and involving a range of health providers, offered out-patient clinics, free screening, tests, and vaccinations. Braemar Charitable Trust joined several other providers to support the day which was held at Tokoroa Hospital and was attended by between 500 and 600 South Waikato locals.

 Jasen Ly, a surgeon who performs his private lists at Braemar Hospital, and is also a Medical Trustee on the Braemar Charitable Trust board, was part of the hauora day and provided free surgical procedures on behalf of the Braemar Charitable Trust. Mr Ly ran an outpatient clinic and was able to provide general surgical procedures for eight people currently on the public waiting list.  

 “Our Trust was keen to be involved was because we know it can be difficult for people to travel to Waikato Hospital, or they may face a considerable wait time through the public system. By bringing our Community Surgery Programme right out into the community we can help people get back into their normal lives and contribute to family, work and society again.”

 Mr Ly, who is also a specialist laparoscopic colorectal and general surgeon at Waikato Hospital, says many health workers are seeking to make a difference to the lives of those in the Waikato community. “One way we’re doing that at Braemar Hospital and Braemar Charitable Trust is to give back to the community through providing free surgeries for those with unmet surgical need. It was great to see people in the South Waikato taking advantage of what was an excellent day for their community.”

 At the hauora day, 17 people were also seen in the skin lesion clinic with eight people needing surgery. Two plastic surgeons who work with Braemar Hospital and Braemar Charitable Trust will provide free surgeries for these, in conjunction with the Trust.

 Braemar Charitable Trust Manager Paula Baker says the organisation has a wide range of activities it funds and runs, all with the ultimate aim of helping boost health outcomes in the Waikato region. The Trust provides free surgeries, scholarships, health training and pays for medical research in the region among other things.

 “People don’t know a lot about us but we are the sole owner of Braemar Hospital and we’ve been working steadily in the background for years enabling access vital to improving health outcomes,” she says. “Braemar Hospital uses the private hospital fees it receives to reinvest in the hospital and to pay us an annual dividend. That dividend helps support the pro-bono work from our surgeons and anaesthetists who are credentialed to work at Braemar and who help our charitable work.”

 The Trust has a range of collaborations across the region including with Te Whatu Ora, PHOs, iwi providers, Te Whakaruruhau/Women’s Refuge, K’aute Pasifika and Te Whare Korowai and these organisations refer patients currently facing untimely access to surgical procedures in the public system. “We know these groups are at the forefront of understanding the needs in their respective communities so we are working closely with them, so together, we can enable people to access the procedures they need.”

 Braemar Charitable Trust is also currently working with the ENT department at Waikato Hospital to provide free grommets, tonsillectomies and adenoidectomies surgeries. Since April 2023, the Braemar Community Surgery Programme has provided free surgeries for 41 Waikato children, reducing their average waiting time on the public list from 12 months to five months and also reducing the waiting time for other children still on the public list.

 Ms Baker says most people in the region assume Braemar Hospital is owned by specialists but it is actually fully owned by the charitable trust. “We have 200 surgeons and anaesthetists who are credentialed to work at Braemar Hospital and many of them donate their time for free community surgeries such as these. We see many specialists who work in the public system who apply to be credentialed at Braemar Hospital specifically so they can support us in offering these free surgeries.”

 The Trust’s Community Surgery Programme covers other specialties, including paediatric dental, plastic, oral and general surgeries. The programme is aimed at people who have been declined or are facing considerable wait times for surgery in the public system, and who do not have health insurance, ACC nor the financial means to pay for private treatment.

 Surgeons and anaesthetists provide the free procedures by either adding the patients to an existing private list they are already performing at Braemar Hospital, or they provide a dedicated half-day community surgery list.


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