The Weekend Sun: 3 October 2014


Providing the basics makes the difference

In life-threatening situations the last thing people think about is gathering that the necessities for an overnight or lengthy stay in hospital, but a Tauranga couple are covering the basics with a personal care kit.

Gary and Chris Bishell are constantly fielding calls from various departments within Tauranga hospital for their patient emergency toiletry kits.

Chris had the idea for the kits four years ago when Gary, a Mount Maunganui St John shift manager, had to rush a patient to hospital.

There was no time to gather basic toiletries for the hospital stay.

“I imagined what it would be like to be in hospital without a few basic items such as a toothbrush and toothpaste, soap, comb, and shampoo and conditioner, with no one to provide these items for me.“ says Chris.

“So I set about approaching local hotel chains, dentists, supermarkets and anyone I could think of to supply a small range of basic items to include in a bag to give to patients facing that situation.“

Chris made up 24 packs, sewing bags together to put everything in, and gave them to Gary, who took them to the Emergency Department for distribution.

“By the end of the week they were gone and I had more orders.“ says Chris.

To date the Bishells have made and distributed 4,722 kits to patients and their caregivers, free of charge.

The situation started to become a financial burden for the couple, so Chris registered for a charity, P.E.T Charitable Trust, to apply for funds.

“I was so grateful to Todd Gower Funeral Service, who came on board as a major sponsor for the project and allowed us to keep going.

“With their help we have been able to buy the bags and most of the items from wholesalers.“

Paula Williamson from Todd Gower Funeral Services says it’s a privilege to be a part of Chris and Gary‘s project.

“They’re are amazing people who do so much good work.

It’s our way of giving back to the community.“

Most of the kits are supplied to patients admitted to Intensive Care and Coronary Care unit at Tauranga Hospital and Chris says the demand just keeps coming.

As the project relies on donations, all offers of help – both financial and of donated goods – are welcome.