IT WAS 8.30pm on Anzac Day eve when I received the call my dad had suffered a massive heart attack. It was the start of a long weekend, which meant no cardiologist would be at Coffs Harbour Base Hospital, the closest hospital to Dad’s home, for three days. He was on life support and would be airlifted to the larger and better equipped John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle as soon as the massive storm that had grounded the patient transport helicopter had passed.
After the attack happened, it took 34 minutes of CPR before ambulance officers could detect a pulse. We didn’t know if he was going to make it.
We had to go to Newcastle. Not only is Newcastle a seven-and-a-half-hour drive from my home in Ballina, but nearly every bit of accommodation within 100km was booked out thanks to the long weekend.
Then I remembered a story I did for The Northern Star in January about a wonderful woman in Lennox Head who had started an organisation called Heartfelt Homes. It’s a not-for-profit organisation that connects people affected by medical emergencies or natural disasters, who are in need of urgent accommodation, to a short term room.
Within an hour of calling, founder Caroline Meehan had found us accommodation close to John Hunter Hospital. It was a huge relief. The last thing anyone in these circumstances wants to do is start cold calling accommodation providers. The organisation also heavily subsidised the cost of the accommodation. Another huge relief.
As a journalist, I cover charities on a weekly basis but until you’ve been on the receiving end, you can’t understand how essential the services are.
Thank you Heartfelt Homes.