Kim Biddinger, Leadership Giving Officer of the Munson Healthcare Otsego Memorial Hospital Foundation, shared with us how funding to the Cancer Patient Needs Fund touched the lives of many in our community battling cancer.

What did this project achieve, including how many Otsego County residents were directly served/impacted?

T.A.C.K.L.E.’s grant award to the Cancer Patient Needs Fund at Otsego Memorial Hospital provided peace of mind and a sense of security to over 30 cancer patients by providing them with much needed financial support.

In what ways did this project benefit the community?
The Cancer Patient Needs Fund at Otsego Memorial Hospital benefits our community by supporting our friends and neighbors when they need it most. Cancer often arrives without warning and can be devastating and disruptive to both patients and their families. Treatments often make a person too ill or too tired to work their regular hours. Even if a person has insurance to cover the treatments, the patient who cannot work does not have the money to pay routine monthly expenses. The Cancer Patient Needs Fund allows our team at the OMH Cancer and Infusion Center to assist patients and their families during a cancer-related crisis. The fund provides financial assistance for such things as prosthetics, transportation, groceries, childcare, and utilities during treatment.

Did you experience any challenges while executing your project? If so, what were they? How did you overcome those challenges, and what lesson(s) did you learn as a result?
COVID-19 was the overwhelming challenge for everyone this year – especially for our cancer patients. With so many businesses closed and people out of work due to the mandated stay at home order, we were very concerned that our cancer patients and their families were suffering financial hardships. We had the ability to provide gas cards, assist with high pharmaceutical co-pays, and provide emergent financial assistance for a patient who required specialized medical care outside of our system prior to beginning chemotherapy treatment at OMH. Without this financial assistance, this patient would not have been able to receive the specialized dental care and their chemotherapy would have been delayed.

On the flip side: Did you experience any unexpected benefits while executing your project? If so, what were they?

The benefit is being able to provide a patient with a small sense of relief during the biggest fight of their life. The ability to give a patient a gas card or help with the high cost of a prescription – one they might not fill if it weren’t for these funds – is a true gift. Cancer is an expensive disease. Even with insurance there are many out-of-pocket costs. T.A.C.K.L.E.’S grant to the Cancer Patient Needs Fund at OMH helps to ease some of the burden for cancer patients and provide them with a sense of relief and comfort knowing that people in this community, and the team from the T.A.C.K.L.E. Fund, are thinking of them.

Tell us a brief story about something directly related to your project – an “Aha!” moment you had, something heartwarming you saw or heard about, feedback from someone affected by your project, etc.
In order to begin chemotherapy treatment, a patient required a specialized procedure in a medical field outside of the Munson Healthcare system. The patient did not carry the type of insurance to assist with the cost and could not afford the cost of the procedure, and, as a result was delaying chemotherapy treatment. The staff at the OMH Oncology and Infusion Center recognized there was something causing a delay and thoughtfully had a conversation with the patient to learn about the financial need and provide help. With help from the Cancer Patient Needs Fund, the patient was able to have the required specialized procedure outside of our system and then begin chemotherapy treatment at OMH.

This project was funded by the T.A.C.K.L.E. Fund of the Otsego Community Foundation