Golf fundraiser will help drive forward plans for Mercy €2 million cancer care haven

Ahead of a major fundraiser in aid of the Mercy University Hospital Foundation, Emma Connolly talks to the driving force behind it, Brian Dunphy, and also catches up with a man who credits the hospital with saving his life
Golf fundraiser will help drive forward plans for Mercy €2 million cancer care haven
Launching this year’s Mercy Hospital Foundation Golf Classic, which takes place in Fota Island Golf Club on Thursday and Friday, April 19 and 20 in aid of the new Mercy Cancer CARE Centre are Golf Classic organiser Brian Dunphy; Cork Senior Hurling Coach, Kieran Murphy; Micheál Sheridan, CEO, Mercy Hospital Foundation; Golf Classic organiser Jack French; and Cork Senior Hurling Manager, John Meyler. Pic: Deirdre Finn

AN HONORARY Cork man who helped set up the Mercy University Hospital Foundation, which has raised millions of euro for the establishment, is now backing their latest campaign which is especially close to his heart.

Originally from Waterford, Brian Dunphy has been living in Cork for 54 years, and has been fundraising for the Mercy since 1979.

Working in the city’s business sector, he fund-raised actively for them throughout the 1980s and 11 years ago was the driving force behind setting up the massively successful Mercy Foundation which in 2016 alone saw more than €1,213,396 made available to patient-centred projects.

This included funding for facilities, support services and equipment as well as medical research programmes — all things that wouldn’t otherwise be funded through the HSE.

Brian remembers that John Murphy was CEO of the hospital at the time and asked him to form a committee to coordinate donations that were being made to them in various departments.

“My daughter is a major gift manager in Crumlin Hospital, essentially a professional fund- raiser, so I knew we needed to do this on a professional basis. We employed a consultant to guide us and advertised for a Managing Director and were lucky to get Micheál Sheridan. The Mercy sisters gave us seed money to start and Micheál and his team raised €2m that first year — he’s enormously talented.”

The mission statement of The Foundation is ‘to respond to the changing needs of patients at The Mercy University Hospital through ethical, transparent and innovative fundraising’.

Brian was its first chairman and held that position for seven years. He retired from the board a few years ago, but he’s not ready to hang up his fund-raising boots just yet.

Along with Jack French, he’s involved in running the now annual Mercy Golf Classic which takes place in Fota Golf Club this April 19 and 20.

Brian says he plays ‘enthusiastically, but not very well!”

Funds raised will go directly toward the building of the Mercy Cancer CARE Centre next to the Hospital. This will be a community-funded cancer centre designed to provide a quiet, safe place for patients and families to help them deal with their cancer diagnosis or to receive ongoing support during their cancer journey, through one-to-one support, peer-group sessions, and bereavement counselling in a non-clinical and relaxed environment.

Brian says the centre is something that’s especially close to his heart: “My brother died of cancer and my mother and I were told both of his prognosis and later death in a cold and impersonal way in the corridor of a UK hospital,” he said.

Brian Dunphy of the Mercy Hospital Foundation.
Brian Dunphy of the Mercy Hospital Foundation.

“I know people are busy, that hospitals don’t have the resources and that’s the way things just happen, but this centre would change all of that.”

Foundation CEO Micheál Sheridan added: “For the one in three of people who will be diagnosed with cancer in our lives, at the Mercy we want to be sure that that news is told in the most supportive way possible.”

So far, nearly €1m of the centre’s €2m total has been raised. Last year the golf classic raised more than €30,000, and Brian and Jack, who founded the event, hope this year it will make even more.

The father-of-three and grandad to seven is married to Carol, and living on the Marina. He acknowledged he had been lucky in life and wanted to give back through his fund-raising work.

And far from being critical of younger people for not getting more involved in fund-raising, he said, through his own children, that he understood the demands on their time.

“Carol didn’t work outside the home, which helped me greatly, but life is different now. However, Cork people are extraordinarily generous — if you ask for it. I’ve never been involved in a project that didn’t get over the line.

“It’s a case of the old saying, ‘dumb priests don’t get parishes’, if you ask, all they can do is say no. And people identify with the Mercy, it’s a Cork thing, everyone has had some association with it. I think there’s still a very personal ethos there, and that everyone is treated as an individual.”

Outside of running the golf classic, Brian has also been asked to rejoin the Board of the Foundation this year to oversee a particular philanthrophic project which will involve seeking donations from individuals or companies and which he’s looking forward to getting started.

The golf classic format will see more than 65 teams tee off over the two days in aid of this worthy cause. Teams consist of four players and the cost per team is €425 which includes access to the driving range, green fees and a meal in the Fota Island Golf Clubhouse following the round.

Golf Classic founder Jack French said: “By participating, each team will be playing their part in the fight against cancer, ensuring that patients receive the best care and support possible during their cancer journey at The Mercy Hospital.

“As an added incentive to golfers, leading motor retailers Johnson & Perrott Motor Group, Mahon Point, will provide a brand new car to any player lucky enough to land a hole-in-one.”

To register, to sponsor a tee, or find out more about getting involved, contact the Mercy Hospital Foundation on 021 4223135 or see www.mercyfundraising.ie.

MORE ABOUT THE MERCY UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL

FOUNDATION

The Mercy Hospital Foundation is also responsible for ensuring that funds raised for The Mercy University Hospital are managed efficiently and allocated in a transparent manner. Some of the ways it has helped include:

Since 2009, they provided more than €500,000 of funding to support Paediatrics including a €100,000 redevelopment of the General Ward in 2009 and a €25,000 grant to support an upgrade of facilities in the Leukaemia Unit

In 2013, the Foundation provided a grant of €10,000 to support the Hospital’s End of Life Programme. Items funded included Family Handover Bags.

In 2013, they donated €1,000,000 worth of CT Scanners to MUH and a further €100,000 towards Ultrasound Equipment for Radiology.

In 2013, the Foundation raised €130,000 to support developments in the Stroke Unit and Stroke Prevention by supporting Vascular Services.

In 2015 and 2016, it funded the upgrade of facilities in St Therese’s Oncology Unit with a grant of €100,000.

With a grant of €65,000 they enabled the introduction of Radio Frequency Ablation for the Management of Barrett’s Oesophagus and early Oesophageal Cancer.

Since 2009 they have contributed over €300,000 towards facilities, equipment, patient welfare and support and staff training as well as development in St. Therese’s Oncology Unit.

Provided €175,000 in funding in 2012 to purchase Advanced Sterilisation System for Endoscopy which enabled MUH receive JAG accreditation leading to MUH being selected as one of the locations for ‘Bowel Screen’.

In 2012 they introduced the ‘Patients Assistance Fund’ which provides financial support to those dealing with short term financial issues as a result of their or their child’s illness.

Since 2008 we have allocated over €570,000 towards Men’s Health & Urology projects including the Rapid Access Clinic.

In 2016 and 2018 they funded a study that enabled Dr. Derek Power and colleagues to Personalise the treatment plans for Bowel Cancer Patients by analysing the genetic characteristics of each patients tumour cells.

Since 2008 the team at the Foundation have Project Managed Cork’s 96FM Radiothon which has raised close to €4 million for Paediatric and Cancer services across Cork.

In 2010 the Foundation provided €194,000 in funding to enable the purchase of Life Support Machines and Anaesthetic Machines in ICU and Theatre.

In 2014 the Foundation’s Kids + Teens Appeal was selected as the Charity Partner to the Irish Open at Fota which raised €50,000 for those services.

In 2016 the Foundation committed over €300,000 in funding to purchase Radial and Linear Scopes to enable the continuation of Dr. Martin Buckley’s EUS (Endoscopic Ultrasound Service).

Since 2011 the Foundation has enabled the POONS (Paediatric Oncology Outreach Nursing Service) to continue to provide a mobile nursing service to children with cancer in Cork with funding in excess of €100,000.

Since 2012 the Foundation has spoken with over 8,000 young men across Munster about Testicular Cancer and the need to carry out a regular ‘Self-Check’.

In 2015 they funded a new 4D Echo for Cardiology costing €78,720.

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