FAIRMONT — When family members accompany their loved ones to Morgantown for cancer treatment, the last thing they need to worry about is paying for an expensive hotel stay on top of paying for cancer therapy.
Luella Gunter, executive director of philanthropy at Mon Health Medical Center, said hospital officials began looking for ways to accommodate families during such stressful times.
“We do a lot with our cancer patients; they are going through treatments,” Gunter said. “That was sort of the onset of this idea; we realized how many patients are coming here and having to stay throughout the entire week.”
Mon Health recently formed a partnership with the Holiday Inn in Morgantown where it has rooms reserved for out-of-town patients to stay while undergoing treatment.
The hospital has negotiated special rates with the hotel for families to take advantage of until the end of April.
“Our long-term goal here at Mon Health is to have a Mon Health family house,” Gunter said. “In the short term — because we don’t have the funding for that yet — we realize we have an incredible number of patients who are from out of town since our reach has expanded, that are coming into Morgantown for treatment, and they need affordable accommodations. That’s how the partnership began.”
Gunter also said people can only make these reservations at the Holiday Inn through Mon Health.
“Patients can’t just call the Holiday Inn and say they are part of this program and they want accommodations,” Gunter said. “They have to actually go through us at the hospital to say they want that reservation made, because we do have a limited number of rooms.”
Kristina Adrian, executive director of marketing and communications for Mon Health, said the program will be especially helpful to patients who travel to Morgantown from Maryland and Pennsylvania.
“We have folks coming from all over our area and West Virginia,” Adrian said. “We also see those coming from Wheeling, Fayette County, Greene County, even Maryland, so I would say surrounding West Virginia as well.”
Gunter said people who take advantage of the partnership will still pay for the hotel stay, but the Mon Health Foundation’s financial assistance program enters the picture to help pay for their stay.
“We do have situations where patients cannot afford housing while being treated,” Gunter said. “In those very specific and special circumstances, the Mon Health Foundation operates an Angel Fund which has been set up specifically to help patients in need.”
The partnership has already helped about 20 patients and families get rooms overnight at the Holiday Inn, according to Gunter. She said while Mon Health is working on a more long-term solution, the organization could likely expand the partnership beyond April.
“I think we will expand as we see the need,” Gunter said. “I think if we see a greater need in the next few months then we can expand the number of rooms, and I am sure we can continue the partnership beyond April if we need that as well.”
Gunter said the goal of the partnership is to make patients and families more comfortable while getting treated at Mon Health Medical Center. By taking the worry of finding overnight accommodations away, patients or family members will have one less thing to worry about.
“When you come into town and you are worried about your loved one who is going to have surgery or there is an emergency situation, that is what you need to focus on — their care and well being,” Gunter said. “You don’t need to be worried about trying to find a place to stay and the best possible rate. And then maybe you are worried about, ‘What if I have to stay more than one night and how am I going to afford this?’ It just takes that pressure off the families.”