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Patient Assistance Funds Established

Spectrum Health “United for Hope” campaign is underway

Facing a serious health issue is frightening. 

Paying for treatment and related costs on top of regular household bills can be downright terrifying. 

Sadly, some patients opt out of treatment in the face of this hardship.

“We have families and patients that stop treatment for reasons as simple as not having gas money to get to the hospital,” said Andrea Leslie, president of Spectrum Health United, Kelsey, Big Rapids and Reed City hospitals. “That’s tragic. And we are doing something to fix that.”’

The United for Hope – Patient Assistance campaign plans to ease that burden for area families, with your help.

Introduced by Spectrum Health United Hospital and the Spectrum Health Foundation, the United for Hope campaign has set a fundraising goal of $260,000 to assist both cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation patients, as well as patients diagnosed with cancer.

A cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation endowment fund will be developed to assist approximately 75 patients each year. Of the total goal, $200,000 is earmarked to establish the endowed fund. Only earnings on the fund are spent each year, thus gifts to the endowment provide a permanent legacy to the donor, while helping patients indefinitely.

In addition, campaign funds will establish a pilot program where immediate funds can be used for gas cards, taxi vouchers, medication assistance and other support to patients with cancer.

Dr. Rocky Hansen and Dr. Roger Coles are co-chairing the fund drive. 

Hansen is pleased that funds received will go directly to patients to continue care.

“What really caught my heart with this project is that it’s assistance to the patients,” Hansen said. “It’s not just creating new bricks and mortar or a new machine for the hospital.” 

Hansen said the goal is to complete the fundraising by November.

Coles believes the need is great.

“People are hurting,” he said. “They come in for a procedure and get a medicine prescribed and they can’t pay for it. It’s these sorts of things that are so troubling.” 

Coles referenced a recent article by the American Journal of Medicine stated that 42 percent of new cancer patients lose their entire savings because of treatment, and 62 percent are in debt. 

“That’s pretty staggering,” he said. 

Coles stressed that volunteers are running the campaign, and that all funds will stay local with no administrative fees.

 “If you give a dime, it’s going right into the project,” he said

 “I truly believe Greenville is a very, very giving community as we’ve seen in so many projects,” Coles said. “We’re looking forward to working with the community to make this happen.”

Supporters can choose cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation or cancer assistance when making a gift. 

Cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation combines education and individualized exercise treatment for patients with heart and lung disease to improve cardiovascular and pulmonary function. 

Some patients start the program, but due to their inability to cover co-pays or even a $5 out-of-pocket cost, they stop going and their progress is lost.

“It’s really heartbreaking,” said Dana Adams, cardiac and pulmonary rehab lead at United Hospital. “Our team works with the patients in getting them feeling better, only to have them drop out because of costs.”

Moreover, many area patients seeking cancer treatment have similar stories. 

The Spectrum Health Cancer Center at United Hospital serves about 2,000 adult patients each year treating various types of cancers including breast, lung and colorectal.

Shelly Westbrook, Spectrum Health Foundation Director of Northeast Region hospitals including United Hospital in Greenville, said United for Hope will serve a critical need. 

“We have a significant part of our population who struggle to make ends meet,” Westbrook said. “This campaign addresses these needs and furthers our mission to improve health, inspire hope and save lives.”

Every donation makes a difference, regardless of size. Donors are encouraged to call the foundation office for more information at 616.225.6416.

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