Nelson Tasman Hospice CEO Frans Dellebeke.

Hospice confident it can plug funding gap

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Nelson Tasman Hospice is confident it will be able to plug a $142,000 hole in its new building, even though Nelson City Council turned down their plea for help.

At a council meeting last Tuesday, hospice put in a request for them to waive a development levy on their new $14 million building on Suffolk Rd in Stoke.

But their request was denied because it was “outside council policy” and it could set a precedent.

There are exemptions listed on the policy, such as kindergartens, playcentres, some social housing developments and public hospitals – but not a hospice.

“We would be undermining the policy, but the greater issue is that it is not the appropriate pot [of funding] to be recognising the benefits the hospice provides the community,” said Lisa Gibellini, a council senior planning advisor.

She instead encouraged hospice to seek funding by making a submission to both the Nelson City Council and Tasman District Council Long Term Plans.

The Nelson Tasman Hospice is a non-profit charitable trust that has provided end-of-life care for those with terminal illness for more than 30 years. The service is free of charge.

But, due to expansion of the neighbouring Manuka Street Hospital, it has been forced to relocate.

Hospice chief executive Frans Dellebeke says he is optimistic the hospice will be able to source the $142,000 through the long term plans – but if not, they will have to rely on more fundraising.

“We’ve got 160 patients on our books at any given time, and approximately 37 per cent of Nelsonians are touched by our service.

“It did seem clear that councillors were happy to fund it – but it was just a matter of all their rules and regulations,” he says.

At the meeting, Frans was also asked why they didn’t charge patients – to which he replied that “it may be something that we might have to look at going forward”.

Speaking to Nelson Weekly, Frans said the comment came “out of the blue”.

“It was a question that was asked, and it could be a possibility years down the track – but not in the near future. No hospice in the country charges it’s patients and both the district health board and government have alluded that won’t happen.”

Frans says they have managed to put $9.5 million of their own money into the build, but they still need $2 million from the public, with the other $2.5 million coming from grants and other fundraising events.

“There is absolutely no government funding for a new building of this type. We get limited funding and we have to raise more than $1 million every year just to cover our operational costs,” he says.

“It’s not a small set-up – it’s a costly set-up.”

Construction of the new hospice started last year and is expected to be finished by the end of this year.