Fifty years of home ther­apy at Ozanam

The Tribune (NZ) - - WHAT’S ON - JA­NINE RANKIN AND KARO­LINE TUCKEY

For 50 years, Palmer­ston North’s Ozanam House has been a ther­a­peu­tic part of can­cer care for pa­tients around the cen­tral North Is­land.

The com­mu­nity that has grown to pro­vide 13 houses for up to 140 pa­tients and their car­ers marked its half cen­tury with an open day and a cake on Satur­day.

The ser­vice, which flies un­der the radar in Palmer­ston North, al­lows peo­ple to en­joy the ben­e­fits of liv­ing at home while un­der­go­ing can­cer treat­ment.

It has re­ceived strong sup­port from the wider re­gion that looks to the MidCen­tral Dis­trict Health Board for can­cer care.

Trust sec­re­tary Roger Clark said the lives of thou­sands of peo­ple around the re­gion had been touched by the spirit of the houses.

He said the house had re­ceived gen­er­ous fi­nan­cial sup­port.

‘‘It was very tough in the early stages, rais­ing funds. Now, it’s about main­tain­ing the build­ings and keep­ing ev­ery­thing nice.

‘‘We hear back from peo­ple who have stayed, with let­ters and cards, some­times years later, with fond mem­o­ries.’’

To mark its half cen­tury, the trust en­gaged writer Wil­liam Muir­head to cap­ture its his­tory in a book called A Home away from Home like no other – 50 years and count­ing of Ozanam House.

It tracks the his­tory back to 1966, when members of the St Vin­cent de Paul So­ci­ety reg­u­larly vis­ited can­cer pa­tients at Palmer­ston North Hos­pi­tal, and no­ticed how the lone­li­ness of be­ing away from home and fam­ily com­pounded their suf­fer­ing.

It was one of those vis­i­tors, Dan But­ler, who is cred­ited with com­ing up with the idea of pro­vid­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion near the hos- pital. ‘‘Wouldn’t it be good if we could pro­vide a house where pa­tients and their fam­i­lies could stay with­out cost­ing too much?’’ he asked, lead­ing to the open­ing of the first house in Feather­ston St in 1967.

Guests have been en­cour­aged to make the houses their homes for as long as they needed to be in Palmer­ston North, with­out charge, al­though most be­came reg­u­lar fi­nan­cial sup­port­ers in time.

PHOTO: WARWICK SMITH/STUFF

Cel­e­brat­ing Ozanam House’s 50th birth­day, from left, ad­min­is­tra­tion as­sis­tant Glenys Brougham, mayor Grant Smith, trust sec­re­tary Roger Clark, and ad­min­is­tra­tion as­sis­tant Meg de Joux.

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