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Suite serenity – a new partnership provides a home away from home for cancer patients
Having cancer is tough enough – and when you have to travel far from home to receive treatment it can be even more challenging. So for more than 50 years, funding from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has provided free accommodation in London for cancer patients who travel 40 kilometers or more to receive chemotherapy and radiation treatment at London Health Sciences Centre’s London Regional Cancer Program (LRCP).
Since 1962, LHSC’s Thameswood Lodge proudly served as this home away from home, but when the South Street Hospital property repatriated to the City of London earlier this year, a new location had to be found to serve the approximately 1,000 patients who take advantage of the service each year.
“It was important for LHSC to take this challenge and turn it into an opportunity,” says Neil Johnson, Vice President, Cancer Care, LHSC. “A key objective from the outset was to consult extensively with patients and families who had used Thameswood to fully understand their needs and preferences with respect to such services and to use that input to shape our criteria for any new provider.”
The call for a new site and services was one that the Marriott Residence Inn was more than happy to answer. After placing a bid in response to LHSC’s request for proposals, the hotel was selected as the new provider of the service. Winning attributes of the hotel included its accessible and centralized location along with its ability to provide the amenities that patients and family members deemed most valuable.
To optimize the hotel to meet specific patient client needs, the Residence Inn, with the assistance of LHSC, increased the number of wheelchair parking facilities, became a scent-free work environment and added a supply of medical assistant devices such as walkers, oxygen tanks, wheelchairs, shower chairs, canes, seats, sitz baths, and sharps containers.
Hotel policies were also revised in order to better accommodate patient’s schedules. Guests who are patients of LRCP may now check in as early as 7:30 am and check out as late as 4 pm. Those who wish to extend their stay into the weekend can do so at a reduced rate.
A shuttle service, which is provided by the hospital, transports patients to and from the Residence Inn and LRCP.
“When we received the opportunity to place the bid, we got together as a team and the buy-in was instantaneous,” says Anna McNutt, General Manager of the Residence Inn.
According to McNutt, feedback from patients has been positive and they have received many comments, including:
“The staff bend over backwards for anything I need, over and over again.”
“The rooms are so spacious, bigger than I have at home.”
“Staff are so passionate and caring.”
“In terms of handing over the torch, we’re happy that the transition was smooth for patients,” says Julie Sans, Cancer Support Services Coordinator. “At the Residence Inn, you have caring staff, the spacious environment and lots of amenities. Patients are going to be looked after—they’re not just a hotel guest.”