Published on April 05, 2021

Patients Find Support and Relief in Funding Assistance Program

Three masked people stand behind a car with the tailgate up.  Inside the car there are bags filled with blankets and food. Re-usable bags with Essentia Health's logo on them

For patients with ongoing and rising medical bills, having gift cards provided to purchase gas, food and hotel rooms diminishes stress levels. It also provides more peace of mind, quality time with family members and the ability to focus on their treatments.

The journey of a patient battling cancer is a harrowing one, full of stress and unexpected challenges. On top of the emotional and physical toll it takes, financial strain can often multiply the difficulty of the journey.

At the Essentia Health Foundation, our goal is care for our patients—always. We continue to find ways to extend a helping hand when our patients need us most and do this in a way which is easy, approachable and meaningful.

One way is through our Cancer Center Funding Assistance Program, which has been active for three years under the supervision of Shane Reed, LBSW, Essentia Health Cancer Center—as well as Sue Omdalen, Executive Director for the Essentia Health-Fargo Foundation. Together, Shane and Sue coordinate ideas for programs and how to apply them effectively.

“The idea is to provide compassionate care—and we offer this through our Travel and Lodging Program,” Shane comments.

The program works with grant monies from the American Cancer Society; the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and funds raised through the annual Bras on Big 98.7 event in Fargo. Donations offset travel and hotel expenses for Essentia cancer patients and their loved ones.

The program works to identify those in need and find ways to make it feasible for them to attend their appointments and add a little extra support when they need it.

“This program is important because it allows our patients to ease the burden of travel. This makes it easier for them to navigate their appointment schedules and alleviate stress, which they are all experiencing regardless of economic situation,” Shane remarks.

For patients with ongoing and rising medical bills, having gift cards provided to purchase gas, food and hotel rooms diminishes stress levels. It also provides more peace of mind, quality time with family members and the ability to focus on their treatments.

“I’ve had patients cry when they receive help from us,” Shane says. “They cry joyful tears, and they are often very surprised that anyone would help them with their needs. Some of these people then pay it forward when they end treatment by donating to our Foundation.”

Each October, the Foundation focuses on fundraising for breast cancer awareness and all Cancer Center support. Each year we encourage people to support our patients through in-kind gift cards around the holidays—and many of these donations have come from first responders, such as fire and police departments, as well as giving trees. With these gift cards being donated directly to patients; donors are interested in providing funding as they can see exactly where and how their contributions are applied.

The Funding Assistance Program has collected additional donations, including 200 bags of blankets, socks, water and related amenities; these have been distributed to radiation and chemotherapy infusion center patients. Ride resources have also been assembled, and disabled patients over the age of 65 can receive rides door-to-door for their appointments. D-S Beverages, Corwin Automotive Group and Subaru continue to be major donors to the program, and Shane said he hopes to acquire more outside resources for funding as the program continues to expand.

This program is one which provides clear and needed help to those facing a challenging time: our patients and their families who are going through the cancer journey. Offering joy in any way possible aligns with our mission to make a healthy difference in people’s lives.

For more information or to discuss how to leave your own legacy to the Essentia Health Foundation, please contact:
Grant Hauschild, Executive Director of Essentia Health Foundation-East, at grant.hauschild@essentiahealth.org or (218) 786-5049
Sue Omdalen, Executive Director of Essentia Health Foundation-West, at susan.omdalen@essentiahealth.org or (701) 364-7784.

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