Flint, MI — July 25, 2022
Driving through the cities and towns of the great State of Michigan you will see hospitals, surgery centers, imaging centers, and specialty care physician centers with the blue logo of McLaren attached.
McLaren Health Care, headquartered in Grand Blanc, Michigan, is known for its extraordinary stroke and cardiac care along with a world-renowned cancer treatment program anchored by the Karmanos Cancer Institute.
Most residents of Genesee County are familiar with McLaren Hospital in downtown Flint. In the area around the hospital, a number of support centers offer an array of medical assistance services. On Beecher Road, just west of the main hospital, sits the McLaren Proton Therapy Center.
If you are not familiar with a medical treatment called Proton Therapy, be thankful. In layman’s terms, Proton Therapy is a means of attacking cancer using radiation in a very precise manner so as not to expose surrounding tissues to a broader dose of the cell-killing waves.
Cancers of the brain, breast, liver, lung, pancreas, prostate and other areas can benefit from the specialized less invasive procedure. The therapy consists of five daily appointments for a period of six to nine weeks.
One of the most frustrating aspects of dealing with cancer is how the illness consumes such a great amount of time and resources while patients try to fight the disease. Imagine having to put everything else on hold for a few months while just trying to get feeling better and in many cases to preserve life itself.
Adjacent to the McLaren Proton Therapy Center sits another building. The sign out front says simply “Hospitality House.” No corporate logos, nothing to draw special attention to its affiliation. Inside a different form of therapy occurs. A slice of normal, a dose of compassion, mixed with equal amounts of support and love. It is a formula just as important as the medicine administered at any McLaren Health Center.
It is not unusual for individuals and companies to downplay their charitable endeavors. You have to do a deep dive on McLaren’s website to find out they have provided over $220 million in uncompensated care for people unable to pay for services rendered. Over six million in the last year alone.
A small portion of that amount is used in support of the McLaren Hospitality House. The return on that investment can in no way be calculated, it’s priceless. Just as the name implies the facility is used to support patients and families with accommodations when events require extended hospital stays. How it works is vital to the healing process.
How Cancer Can Impact a Family
Here is a case example. A family from Petosky has three children, one of the youngsters has a cancerous tumor growing on her brain. Surgery is not an option, conventional radiation therapy would likely damage other cells surrounding the malignant growth. She is an ideal candidate for Proton Therapy.
Fortunately, insurance covers the majority of the family’s medical expenses. But, how do they spend nine weeks 200 miles from home while this young lady receives the treatment she needs to survive? This is where the McLaren Hospitality House plays such an important role in the life of this family as they battle this horrible illness.
How It Works
The “suggested donation” to offset the cost of a night’s stay at the Hospitality House is $35 to $50 depending on the type of room required. Compare $250 for a five-night stay (long-term treatment patients often return home on weekends) to an average hotel room rate of $125 a day or $625 over the same time period.
Some pay less, some pay nothing. Others contribute more, while others pay it forward. Compassion is not a one-way street.
A cancer diagnosis, a stroke, a heart attack, or other health crisis can seemingly put one’s life on hold. However, the bills don’t stop, the needs of the family don’t come to a halt, and a bit of normalcy can add so much comfort.
There are conventional rooms similar to a hotel, family suites can house a couple and children who are there as a part of the support team. Community kitchens provide food prep facilities, there is personal storage space in cabinets and refrigerators. Food donations provide extra for those in need who have not had a chance to gather provisions.
A laundry room, recreation area with games and a pool table, children’s play area, exercise room, crafting area, a library with computer access, and quiet contemplation rooms offer a place to renew one’s spirit. Even rooms that can allow large groups of family and friends to meet for meals, a special event, or the celebration of a positive treatment outcome.
Drive around to the rear of the building and there are three RV parking spaces for those who have liveable units they can bring with them. Full electrical hookups are offered and guests can avail themselves of all the conveniences the house offers.
Why It is Important
Adding a sense of normal to a patient and their family during a difficult time actually helps the healing process by supporting emotional needs while the medical needs are being attended to.
The house has been in operation for almost 10 years and only has two full-time employees. Teresa Williams is the Director of Hospitality Service and Edwina Johnson is the Coordinator of the Hospitality House. They rely on a staff of interns, students working towards medical or hospitality degrees, and of course, volunteers from the McLaren Auxillary who keep the facility staffed 24/7.
Both will attest to the fact that guests thrive in the environment. Teresa explains; “When people arrive here we quickly become their family, especially in those first few days until other family members arrive. We love them, support them, help them get comfortable right away, and see that their immediate needs are met. I love my job, it is so rewarding, and the gratitude they respond with towards Edwina and me is so heartwarming. We keep tissues always on the ready”
The sense that the McLaren Hospitality House is such a valuable support system to members of the greater Michigan community is so great, why don’t more people know about it. Again, be thankful if you never have reason to use the house.
People, by nature, are generous and willing to offer help to those with special needs. Many look for a specific charity that they deem worthy of their contribution. Visit the McLaren Hospitality House web page and judge for yourself the benefit of their work. Take the virtual tour, read patient stories, and determine if you or your company would like to support this worthwhile endeavor. A donation link appears on the page.
Fundraising plays an important part in helping to cover the operational expenses of the Hospitality House. The McLaren Golf Classic is an annual event that accounts for a significant portion of the costs the house must cover. This year it is scheduled for August 8th and there are still sponsorship opportunities available.
McLaren is the presenting sponsor of the Ally Challenge, the tournament is held at the beautiful Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club in Grand Blanc and has developed into one of the biggest events on the PGA Tour Champions circuit. The McLaren Pro-Am during tournament week is another important fundraiser for the Hospitality House.
Click on the link for the Nights of Hope Fund to see other ways in which individuals can assist the work of this remarkable House of Help for those facing the most trying times of their lives.