Last year, ACS awarded $2 million in transportation grant funding to 130 health systems across the country to alleviate the financial burden of transportation costs for cancer patients, providing approximately 70,000 rides to treatment for 5,000 people.
“We previously have received American Cancer Society transportation grants of $5,000 and $15,000, which over the past two years we have used to provide more than 678 rides to patients needing transportation for cancer treatment,” says Keisha Humphries, director of Oncology Services for Ascension Via Christi. "With the new grant, we anticipate seeing the number of rides grow to around 800."
Based on assistance provided through previous grant funding, the new ACS grant is expected to provide more than 228,000 rides to treatment for nearly 17,000 people nationwide.
Patients battling cancer may require daily or weekly treatment, sometimes over the course of several months, says Humphries, adding that community partnerships like the one Ascension Via Christi and the American Cancer Society are vitally important to the patients they collectively serve.
“Some patients don’t have access to transportation or are too fatigued or sick to drive themselves,” Humphries says. “Family and friends may not have the time or resources to provide a ride to every treatment, causing them to miss appointments or skip them altogether.”
For them, removing transportation barriers can make a world of difference, says Angie Rolle, regional vice president of Cancer Control for the American Cancer Society, noting that “even the best treatment cannot work if a patient can’t get there.”
In April, ACS provided Ascension Via Christi a one-year $25,000 lodging grant to help improve rural Kansans’ access to care by providing patients and their caregivers a place to stay when their best hope for effective cancer may be in another city.
The grant will be especially helpful for patients coming to Ascension Via Christi St. Francis, the state’s only approved center for cellular therapy outside the Kansas City metro area. Patients undergoing chimeric antigen response, or CAR T-cell therapy, may be required to remain in Wichita for outpatient monitoring for up to six weeks following their hospital stay.
“Not having to worry about where to stay or how to pay for lodging will allow these and other patients coming to us for specialized cancer care to focus on getting better,” says Humphries.