A PRIVATE benefactor has donated $40,000 to help save a local program that keeps Parkinson’s disease sufferers in their homes longer.
The program was introduced to the Shoalhaven three years ago.
Marilia Pereira was appointed to the position of neurological nurse in a two-year pilot program.
Despite being highly successful, government funding was discontinued.
However a private benefactor and the Bendigo Bank kept the position running for a third year.
The donation this week left Parkinson’s NSW CEO Miriam Dixon overwhelmed with gratitude.
However, she will continue to keep the pressure on the federal and state governments to permanently fund the position.
While the pilot project was funded by the federal government, Ms Dixon has asked state and federal departments for money to continue the position and had no joy securing funds for this year.
“We are absolutely indebted to the private benefactor for this donation,” she said.
“The groundswell of support is incredible and we are thrilled but we need more.
“This will take us through to about June and we can’t keep going on like this.
“We need some commitment, we need to bed down some proper funding for this position,” she said.
The anonymous donation came on the back of a speech Gilmore MP and Shoalhaven Mayor Joanna Gash made in Parliament on Monday.
She pointed out that in 2011 across Australia, nearly 30 new diagnoses of Parkinson’s were made every day.
“That is 30 a day, imagine that,” she said.
“I finished the speech and next minute a phone call came in saying the Parkinson’s nurse project had just received a donation of $40,000,” Mrs Gash said.
Mrs Dixon, along with local medical professionals, could not believe that the success of the program locally was not enough to warrant its continued funding.
“This trial was to showcase the role of neurological nurses in Australia, and it was an overwhelming success,” Ms Dixon said.
“I can understand if the trial did not work that it would be dropped but we’re showing it worked.
“We are the only state that doesn’t get funding for neurological nurses or services.”
Director of Neurology at St George Hospital Dr Mark Hersch sees Shoalhaven patents and said the nurse program is vital.
“Medical specialists such as myself see outpatients for half an hour every few months,” he said.
“The role of a local community based nurse in monitoring the patients, advising them, educating them and helping them to know when the specialist needs to be updated or directly involved in further review is invaluable.
“An experienced and motivated community nurse can oversee the medical and related social aspects of dozens of patients, much more effectively that an arm’s-length specialist.
“The input of Marilia to the quality of life of neurological patients is vital if patients are to have an optimal quality of life.
“And yes, nurses such as Marilia do much to postpone or avoid admissions to very expensive nursing homes,” he said.