Marshfield (OnFocus) – The American Cancer Society is closing the Hope Lodge in Marshfield, citing financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, declining operations and operational funding shortfalls as the reason. The center has been closed since March, due to COVID-19. It is the only ACS Hope Lodge in Wisconsin, with 30 other locations nationwide.
When a person is diagnosed with cancer and must travel to another city for the best treatment, where to stay and how to pay for a place to stay are immediate concerns and sometimes affect the decision on where to take treatment. In order to address this critical need, the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodges provide free temporary lodging for patients and their caregivers close to treatment centers. ACS Hope Lodges accept patients and their caregivers who live 40+ miles (or more than an hour) from their treatment center.
Equally important, Hope Lodges provide a supportive, nurturing environment that is key to the healing process. The staff and volunteers at the Lodges also help patients and caregivers better navigate the cancer experience by providing information and access to the full spectrum of programs and services of the American Cancer Society.
The Hope Lodge was financed through a capital campaign driven by community members, with all brick and mortar paid for by the community and then gifted to the American Cancer Society. The center has been supported through ongoing community donations, through fundraisers like the annual Vita Bella Gala and Relay for Life. As recently as May, the center received a donation through Marshfield Clinic Health System and Security Health Plan’s COVID-19 Community Support Fund.
“The ACS decision to close was delivered to our health care system with no advance notice, and no provision for the 15 families are depending on the Lodge for upcoming treatments,” said Al Nystrom, Board Member. “Further, ACS has declined to return the facility that we paid for and gifted to them. The lack collaboration with our health care providers and lack of consideration for patient families is very disheartening.”
The American Cancer Society and Marshfield Clinic Health System are collaborating to determine the future of the facility. Vice President of Hope Lodge Operations for the American Cancer Society Howard Heino made a statement on the closure:
“We’re evaluating everything we do to support our cancer-fighting mission – that includes a strategic review of our entire Hope Lodge program. We understandably share the disappointment expressed by the Marshfield Clinic Health System and others in the community. This decision wasn’t made lightly. We’re committed to working with our community partners to address patients’ access to care needs and to explore opportunities that will help meet the changing needs of cancer patients, the community, and beyond.
We know that many patients and volunteers feel deep, personal connections to our Hope Lodge which makes this a heartbreaking decision for us. We’re grateful to Marshfield Clinic Health System for their partnership and the entire Marshfield community for their years of support to create a home away from home for guests at the Hope Lodge. We look forward to ongoing community conversations about what comes next for the Hope Lodge building in Marshfield.”
A Marshfield Clinic Health System spokesperson released the following statement:
“The American Cancer Society’s sudden and unexpected decision to permanently close Hope Lodge is profoundly disappointing as so many families relied on the comfort and support it provided when visiting Marshfield to receive care at Marshfield Clinic. Families over the years have shared their appreciation of having this valuable resource in Marshfield. That resource is sadly no longer available to the more than dozen patients currently waiting to receive treatment in Marshfield.
Since the Lodge’s closing during the pandemic, which we were led to believe was temporary, the Health System, through its Center for Community Health Advancement, provided patients and families comfortable lodging in hotels and apartments. We will continue to be innovative and explore alternative options to help those who have relied on and will be now be without this wonderful community asset during their cancer journey.”
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