Rotary FONE the Angels of the Emergency Department

Visiting the Emergency Department (ED) at Nepean Hospital can sometimes be a lonely, intimidating and frightening experience, especially if you’ve attended for a potentially life-altering ailment or injury.

However, a group of volunteers, consisting of members of the Rotary Club of the Lower Blue Mountains and community members, are on hand to offer assistance where possible, whether in the way of warm blankets, refreshments, magazines, clothing and toiletries (toothpaste / toothbrush), or even just a listening ear for adult patients. The volunteers even help find hearing aids, glasses, fill hot water bottles, show the location of toilets – really anything and everything.

The Friends of Nepean Emergency (Rotary FONE) volunteers primary aim is to cater for children of all ages, whether they are patients, siblings or children of visitors, providing activity books / pages, crayons / pencils, stickers, teddy bears and pocket pals for comfort and / or distraction.

Beginning in 2018, Rotary FONE has been operating at Nepean Hospital, apart from a break due to COVID from 2020 – 2023. Even then, Rotary FONE members actively packed baskets of food (meals, snacks, fruit) and delivered them to hospital staff living nearby to a Rotary FONE member, for transport to the hospital for the staff to enjoy.

There are currently 16 active volunteers in the Rotary FONE set-up, with 10 being Rotarians (or their partners) and 6 community members. Rotary FONE is very reliant on its community volunteers, who are valuable, reliable, wonderful people.

The Rotary Club of Blue Mountains opened an Op Shop in Blaxland in 2019 (Rotary Recycles) and get some of the used clothing from the shop to use for patients who require a change of clothes in the ED.

The Rotary Club of the Lower Blue Mountains and Rotary FONE have jointly raised over  $60,000 for medical equipment for the ED, including a grant from Rotary International for the Baby Resuscitation Machine and Eye Camera.

Other equipment funded by the Rotary Club and Rotary FONE are BMI Scales for children and Intubation equipment.

Rotary FONE is always on the lookout for volunteers who are outgoing or have experience or history regarding interaction with others. Volunteers from Rotary FONE work in the ED 5 days per week in pairs, on 2-hour shifts. Volunteers can choose their own level of involvement, from weekly, fortnightly or monthly, depending upon their personal commitments.

Fittingly, Rotary FONE has received several letters and certificates of appreciation from Nepean Emergency, in recognition of the valuable time, service and support its volunteers provide to Nepean Hospital.