Fifty years of home therapy at Ozanam
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.
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.