The Leura Gardens Festival is a registered charity, the objective of which is to provide funds for medical equipment and patient care at the Blue Mountains District Memorial Hospital.
Management of the Festival is in the hands of a voluntary committee currently chaired by Mr Ray Wiles and suppported during the Festival by nearly 200 volunteers from the local community who undertake a variety of important duties.
It was founded in 1965 when four gardens were open in October that year and $900 was raised. Over the following 21 years the number of gardens participating in each Festival was extended to nine days in October covering two weekends and the intervening weekdays. More recently additional attractions have been offered to visitors, these include a cafe, art in the gardens and music in the gardens.
In the first 21 years over $250,000 was raised and used to purchase hospital equipment and to improve the amenities of the hospital. In the following 7 years between 1986 and 1993 a further $500,000 was raised. This money was spent to equip and furnish a high-dependency unit and two paliative care suites.
Between 1993 and 2001 the committee paid much of the cost of the new pediatric unit and paid for new endoscopic equipment, a state-of-the-art anaesthetic machine complete with monitoring units, a gastroscope and other invaluable equipment. Other purchases in these years included stress testing equipment, a ventilator for the high-dependency unit, a retinal camera and physiotherapy equipment, in all purchases amounted to several hundred thousand dollars.
In 2002 the Festival purchased telemetric monitoring equipment, enabling patients to walk around the hospital having their vital signs monitored without being hooked up to cables.
In 2003 the Festival purchased a high-resolution screen monitor, the virtual critical care unit. This enables staff at Katoomba to consult with their colleagues at Nepean teaching hospital. The link immediately conveys high quality pictures, sounds and data allowing speed diagnosis and treatment.
In 2004 thirty electric beds were purchased. These increased the independence and comfort of patients allowing adjustments by way of finger controls. The beds also save nurses' backs when lifting patients.
In 2005/6 money was spent on the refurbishment of the East Wing and a range of general equipment including portable vital signs monitors, wheelchairs, a labour ward bed and space lab monitors.
Between 2007 and 2009, a total of $247,000 was spent on a wide range of equipment, and towards the cost of the relocation of the Cardiac Rehabilitation and Chronic Airways departments of the hospital. Equipment purchased included resuscitation beds, a cardiotocograph, spacelab monitors, a labour ward bed, wheelchairs, and a paediatric cot.
In 2009 a donation of $6690 was also made to the Blue Mountains Cancer Help Inc. to fund advanced training for physiotherapy staff.
In 2010 the Festival committee approved a total expenditure of $110,000 on a range of items identified as priority items by the hospital. Principal items included four cardiac monitors, a video laryngoscope. a foetal monitor and two electric beds.
In 2011, a donation of nearly $96000 was made to the hospital for the purchase of equipment for physiotherapy, education, the east wing, the operating theatres and the A&E department. In addition, three local health related charities each received $3000. They were, Blue Mountains Health trust,, Can Assist and Blue Mountains Cancer Health Inc.
In excess of $100,000 was raised during Festival 2012, most of which will assist in the purchase of medical equipment for the Blue Mountains and District Anzac Memorial Hospital. In keeping with Festival policy to assist other Blue Mountains Health related charities, donations will also be made to The Blue Mountains Health Trust and Cancer Help.
As always, the success of the Festival is down to the garden owners and the hundreds of volunteers who freely give of their time and resources over the nine days of the Festival.