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Cancer Center 'Bridges' the Gap for Cancer Patients

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Fighting cancer is a difficult battle. Those with cancer need excellent care, delivered with compassion and understanding. Patients and their families, though, may also need personal help—especially if the patient is not employed or expenses are not covered by insurance. For more than a decade now, the Cancer Center Bridge Fund has helped 'bridge the gap' in coverage to provide for some of the basic needs of cancer patients in treatment.

Elizabeth McKinney of Staunton, a patient at Augusta Health Cancer Center, has been fighting the battle since July. Diagnosed with lymphoma, she and her husband have struggled to make ends meet and cope with her disease. The Bridge Fund has helped her with medications and a gas card. She says:

"Without the Bridge Fund, I could not have afforded all the medications I needed. The blood thinners are so expensive. I needed a cream to put on my port to numb the area and make it much more comfortable. Working with Leigh Anderson (the Cancer Center social worker who administers the Bridge Fund) has been easy because she is so warm and helpful. The Bridge Fund is here to help patients and families—don't be afraid to ask for help and use the resources offered here."

Brad Johnson, Director of the Cancer Program at Augusta Health, explains the need for the Bridge Fund:

"Dealing with cancer and its treatment creates enough anxiety and stress for patients and their families. The Bridge Fund covers the gap for patients in need, allowing them to focus on treatment and getting healthy."

The Bridge Fund 'bridges the gap' when a critical need arises for a patient and no other assistance is available. It is supported solely by financial contributions to the Augusta Health Foundation by grateful patients and family members, Augusta Health employees, Cancer Center volunteers and caring members of the community.

In 2016, the Bridge Fund was able to provide more than $25,000 in assistance to patients and their families for immediate needs they faced, such as:

  • Medication assistance for prescriptions not covered by other patient assistance programs.
  • Assistance with the cost of nutritional supplements—both oral and tube feeding supplements—that are not covered by insurance.
  • Upfront costs for uninsured cancer patients who need outpatient surgery for port placement before starting IV Chemotherapy.
  • Help with transportation costs through gas cards or cab rides.
  • Assistance with purchasing wigs, turbans, hats, mastectomy bras and lymphedema sleeves.

Tami Radecke, Executive Director of the Augusta Health Foundation, said:

"One hundred percent of every gift to the Bridge Fund is used to support our cancer patients and their families. There are no administrative fees. We deeply appreciate the generosity of those who support the Cancer Center Bridge Fund; without their gifts, the Fund would not exist."

Adds Leigh Anderson, the Cancer Center's Licensed Clinical Social Worker who worked with Elizabeth and her family:

"Every day, I see people who are just knocked off their feet by cancer; they are worried and scared. They are just trying to make it through treatment the best they can. The Bridge Fund helps these patients during one of the most difficult times of their lives. It makes a huge difference."

About Augusta Health Foundation and Augusta Health Cancer Center:

Augusta Health Foundation's mission is to inspire community ownership through charitable giving to advance health and wellness in our region. The Foundation is the charitable arm of Augusta Health and supports essential patient care programs and services at Augusta Health, including Augusta Health Cancer Center's Bridge Fund. For more information about Augusta Health Foundation, please visit the website, www.augustahealth.com/foundation.

Augusta Health Cancer Center's oncology program has maintained full accreditation status from the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons since 1994, and its 2009 accreditation recognized the program as a Community Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Center Program, based on the increase in the number of patients seen and procedures performs. Augusta Health Cancer Center is a DukeHealth affiliate. For more information, please visit the website, www.augustahealth.com/cancer-center.