Cancer care poses a significant financial burden for many patients and families. For those who must travel to another city to receive treatment, the unexpected expenses associated with living away from home can be overwhelming, and insurance does not typically cover travel, lodging or food, which can add up quickly.
Here in Gainesville, the American Cancer Society (ACS) recently made the difficult decision to close the Gainesville Hope Lodge. The lodge, which had suspended operations in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, ceased operations altogether on August 6, 2020.
The Gainesville lodge, which opened in 1986, was one of the oldest in the country and helped countless UF Radiation Oncology cancer patients and their families over the years. However, a decreased demand for rooms, increased operating expenses, and much-needed updates to the aging building ultimately made the lodge too costly to operate. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic created severe financial challenges for ACS, with donations currently at 20-30% of normal levels.
Alachua County ACS Hotel Partnership
On October 1, 2020 the ACS announced that funds normally earmarked for Hope Lodge will be used to support another option to help the most needy patients in Alachua County: The ACS will partner with a local hotel to offer free lodging for patients through 2021. Rooms with a kitchenette will be provided and patients will need to arrange for transportation to and from the hotel, as shuttles were discontinued due to COVID-19. Patients may request a handicap room. For more information, contact UF Radiation Oncology at 352-265-0287.
The Southeastern Healthcare Foundation
UF’s Southeastern Healthcare Foundation can also assist with lodging expenses.
The Southeastern Healthcare Foundation, Inc. was created to support the mission of Shands Teaching Hospital and Clinics, Inc. and the University Of Florida College Of Medicine. Giving is easy – please make your check out to: Southeastern Healthcare Foundation (include “Radiation Oncology Fund #3065” in the memo) and mail your generous donation to:
UF Health Office of Development
P.O. Box 100386
Gainesville, FL 32608
The Laura Goldfarb Radiation and the Climb for Cancer Funds
Other funds that assist with patient lodging include the Laura Goldfarb Radiation Fund and the Climb for Cancer fund.
The Laura Goldfarb Radiation Fund, initially created to provide gas cards for patients, was expanded to include lodging due to the impact of COVID-19. Since March, the fund has provided approximately $25,000 for patient lodging.
The Climb for Cancer fund, founded by Ron Farb, began a collaboration with Sweetwater Branch Inn in April to provide lodging for patients. Farb generously extended the fund’s monthly allowance and assistance time frame, and to date, Climb for Cancer has donated over $13,000 towards lodging for patients.
For more information, contact UF Health Giving at 352-265-7237, or firstname.lastname@example.org.