Cancer Transportation Program Logs 22,000+ Miles (Battle Creek) 02/06/2009 Cancer transportation program at BCHS logs 22,000+ miles the first year; volunteers are the keys to its success
Recognizing that traveling to and from treatments can be a major challenge for cancer patients, The Cancer Care Center at Battle Creek Health System began a partnership one year ago with the American Cancer Society (ACS) to make transportation more accessible for BCHS patients. It is called Road to Recovery.
This collaboration brought together community organizations that had expressed an interest in addressing the cancer incidence rate in Calhoun and surrounding counties. Gary Minneman Jr. of Sunshine Toyota in Battle Creek donated the Toyota Camry used in this unique initiative. Drivers trained for this program are volunteers from Denso Manufacturing and the American Cancer Society.
“The Road to Recovery Program demonstrates how a community can work together for the benefit of its citizens,” says Dr. Randy Mudge, medical director of radiation oncology and chair of the hospital’s cancer committee. “We at The Cancer Care Center and our patients are forever indebted to the American Cancer Society, Gary and Sunshine Toyota, along with Denso and all our volunteers for easing the burden and suffering of this terrible disease.”
Here is how the program works. BCHS cancer patients and their families can call the American Cancer Society’s 800 number any time, 365 days a year and speak to a cancer information specialist about their diagnosis, treatment, or other needs that may affect their cancer experience. When a transportation need is identified the specialist contacts the ‘Road to Recovery’ coordinator who begins the process of matching a volunteer driver to the patient.
During its first year, more than 700 rides were scheduled in the cancer transportation program. There were eight trained drivers when the first patient climbed into the car in February, 2008. Today there are 32 drivers that logged 22,070 miles the first 12 months.
Denso Manufacturing Michigan (DMMI) had never heard of the new transportation program when it was approached to consider participating. Within a month, DMMI fielded a team of six drivers. “Since DMMI has always had a very strong corporate social responsibility program in place, recruiting a team was not too difficult,” says Jim Burkheimer, section leader, DMMI corporate communications. “Like the proverbial letter carriers, DMMI volunteers drove BCHS Cancer Care Center patients on more than 100 trips the first year through rain, lots and lots of snow and ice, even severe thunderstorms and tornado watches to make certain that every patient that needed a ride got to their cancer treatments.”
Most of the trips for DMMI drivers were during the day, so their drivers took time from work to help. They were able to flex their work schedule by going in early or staying late to make up the hours.
Why would volunteers go out of their way in the middle of a workday to provide rides? “It’s really simple—to help those in need,” says Chris Reed, who drives and schedules the rides for the DMMI drivers. “Our team always steps up to the plate and gets the rides done. It’s a wonderful opportunity to help others get critical cancer care they could not otherwise receive.”
Karyn Griffin, another DMMI associate adds, “Driving patients to their treatments has been a joy … the patients are so positive and appreciative. We talk and they share stories with us—it is sort of like being part of their family. You always get more out of volunteering than you give.”
"My mother died from Leukemia, but she was fortunate to have access to great care and numerous people who helped her in her time of need,” says Wayne Busch, another DMMI volunteer Road to Recovery driver. “The people we drive to the cancer center are often not surrounded by others that can help them. So as a volunteer driver, I get a great deal of joy out of knowing that I am making a difference in that special rider’s life by driving them to the hospital for their cancer treatments."
This program is not limited to a specific geographical area. Its goal is to have enough trained volunteers to address any medical request from cancer patients or their families for transportation assistance to Battle Creek Health System. For example, there are patients who use the program from as far away as Coldwater and Sturgis and as close as Battle Creek.
”This important community initiative is designed to identify cancer patients’ transportation barriers, find solutions through community partnerships, and transport patients to their lifesaving and life-sustaining treatments,” says Jean Thompson, community program manager for the American Cancer Society. “For some, transportation has limited their ability to receive cancer treatment in a timely manner.
This program goes a long way in helping them on their personal ‘road to recovery.’”
“No one should have to miss an appointment with one of our oncologists because they don’t have a vehicle to get them here,” says Wayne Young, administrative director of The Cancer Care Center. “Many patients may need daily or weekly treatments, often over a period of months. For those who have no car or are simply too ill to drive, this new program helps address those concerns.”
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer driver or for more information, contact Jean Thompson at 800-465-5244 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The local American Cancer Society office provides a simple training program and the opportunity to meet with fellow volunteers throughout the year.
Battle Creek Health System, sponsored by two parent organizations--Trinity Health (the fourth largest Catholic health system in the U.S. with 21 hospitals, 9 nursing homes, 19 senior house facilities, 8 home health care agencies, and 4 hospices in Michigan alone) and BCHS Community Partners, is accredited by the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. Battle Creek Health System as a recipient of the 2008 HealthGrades Orthopaedic Surgery Excellence Award™ and 2009 Five Star rated for joint replacement surgery and total knee replacement. HealthGrades is a leading health care information company that provides objective ‘report card’ ratings nationwide. BCHS provides excellent health care for the community and promotes wellness for the whole person with access and compassion for all. For the latest medical information, visit the BCHS web site at www.bchealth.com or call the BCHS Marketing Department at (269) 966-8132.
About The Cancer Care Center
The Cancer Care Center at Battle Creek Health System offers comprehensive, state-of-the-art services based upon the latest cancer research, sophisticated diagnostic equipment, a multi-specialty team including board certified surgeons who discuss and coordinate treatment plans, and life-long patient follow-up through cancer registry.
The Cancer Care Center recently unveiled its newly renovated facilities adding 6,000 square feet of new area and 3,000 square feet of renovation giving critically needed treatment space for cancer patients, lifesaving new technology, a more healing environment, and room to grow complementary therapies.
The expansion project makes available an American Cancer Society (ACS) resource library for patients and community members who wish to learn more about this disease. The Cancer Center also offers an ACS program called ‘Road to Recovery’ that provides transportation for patients to their lifesaving and life-sustaining treatments at the hospital.
The Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons recognizes Battle Creek Health System as the only Community Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Program. This approval is the highest awarded and held by fewer than 10% of hospitals nationwide. BCHS is the only hospital in Southwest Michigan to hold this designation.
Approval by the Commission on Cancer is awarded only to those facilities that have voluntarily committed to provide the best in diagnosis and treatment of cancer and that undergo a rigorous evaluation process and review of their performances. In order to maintain approval, facilities with approved cancer programs must also undergo an on-site review every three years.
Receiving treatment in a Commission on Cancer-approved program ensures that a patient has access to quality care close to home.