Memphis lodge benefits traveling cancer patients
Posted: Wednesday, April 27, 2011 8:01 pm
MEMPHIS (AP) — A lodge near downtown for cancer patients traveling to Memphis for treatment is giving them some peace of mind.
Located east of the famous Sun Studio, the American Cancer Society’s Harrah’s Hope Lodge is described by some as a Ronald McDonald House for adults.
According to The Memphis Daily News, the facility is the only one of its kind in the area, and one of only 31 nationwide catering to adult cancer patients at no cost to them. Since opening in December, about 70 patients seeking cancer treatment at Memphis hospitals or oncology centers have stayed at the lodge.
A 2003 needs assessment study by the Mid-South Division of the American Cancer Society found that large numbers of adult patients were traveling to Memphis to receive cancer care, but there was no housing in place to accommodate them.
The Harrah’s Foundation, which is funded by the casino company Harrah’s Entertainment, donated $2 million for the construction of the facility and has provided ongoing support.
Other donors include the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, which donated the land, and the Plough Foundation and The Assisi Foundation of Memphis, each giving $1 million to the project.
Dr. Matthew Wilson, an ocular surgeon at Methodist University Hospital and professor of ophthalmology at UT Hamilton Eye Institute, specializes in cancers of the eye and has referred many patients to the lodge.
He said specialized care is typically found in urban areas, requiring patients from smaller communities to travel, which is a tremendous physical and financial burden on cancer patients.
“You’re looking at eight nights of hotel cost in the time of an exceedingly tough economy in a part of the country that’s one of the poorest in the nation,” said Wilson, whose patients come from all over the Southeastern United States. “Those factors just make this resource all the more important to the patient.”
The lodge’s first floor features communal dining, kitchens, a library and recreational areas, while the second and third floors have a total of 40 suites for cancer patients and a guest/caregiver.
Volunteers cook and serve meals, register guests, organize game nights, and transport patients to and from medical appointments by shuttle.
Lodge director Kim Culbreath said patients initially come for the financial benefit, but some also forge friendships with other cancer patients and caregivers that provide additional support.
“They start looking out for the other patients and checking on them,” said Culbreath, herself a cancer survivor. “When they’re going through such a difficult time, they can be around other people who understand, and I think there’s healing in that.”
Published in The Messenger 4.27.11