Drought relief: Dudley hospital waives farmers' fees and co-payments

HELPING FARMERS: Dudley Private Hospital CEO Paul McKenna. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 0803dudley1
HELPING FARMERS: Dudley Private Hospital CEO Paul McKenna. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 0803dudley1

Dudley Private Hospital will waive hospital excess fee and co-payments for farmers as part of a campaign to aid drought relief.

Hospital CEO Paul McKenna said the offer was available to farmers who were privately insured, whose farm was in a drought-declared area and who received the federal government’s Farm Household Allowance.

Mr McKenna said the size of the fee or co-payments varied according to the level of health cover people had.

“It could be $50, it could be $250, it could be $500, it’s dependent on individual cover,” he said.

“It’s like the excess you pay on car insurance.

“At this stage its just for the farming community, primary producers.”

The scheme will initially apply for farmers who go to hospital for treatment from October 1 to March 31 next year.

Farmers need to have proof of their address and a copy of their Farm Household Approval to be eligible for the assistance.

Hospital staff will also be pitching in to help with drought relief at staff fundraising lunches on Tuesday.

Staff are encouraged to wear ‘farmer attire’ to work on the day.

Each person will donate $5 to participate with the hospital’s owners, the Ramsay Health Care group, to match the amount raised.

It will donate the money to Rural Aid which operate the Buy A Bale campaign.

Ramsay Health Care Australia CEO Danny Sims said the fee waiving and staff day would apply across all its facilities.

“The lack of rain is having a severe impact across NSW and parts of Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia,” he said.

“As an organisation it is important to contribute to relief efforts.

“Coming to hospital can often be a stressful time for people under normal circumstances, let alone for primary producers who are undergoing testing times through no fault of their own.

“We want to make it easier for drought-affected families to seek the care they need.

“Our employees are already dedicated to helping patients who need treatment within our facilities.

“Hosting this series of lunches across the country gives all an opportunity to assist farmers beyond the boundaries of our hospitals and clinics.”

Mr Sims said Ramsay was also looking at providing mental health assistance to rural communities.

“In many instances the drought is not only leading to financial stress for primary producers, but is also taking a toll on the state of their mental health,” he said.

“We want to offer our support to help alleviate  some of this burden.”

Ramsay Health Care is Australia’s largest private hospital operator.

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