“Nurses are always trying to get help for these folks,” Welsh says. And as more nurses at her cancer center struggled with ways to get patients the assistance they needed, Welsh says, “No hard feelings against my hometown, but we thought, 'We can do what they did, and we can do it better.' ”
So, in October 2009, Kearney Tackles Cancer was born, and in the past four years, local students have raised $100,000 in a town of 30,000 people for this Patient Assistance Fund, leading Good Samaritan to receive the 2012 Spirit of Excellence Award for Service.
Gas and medications are probably the top two requests from the more than 200 patients who have received help, says Shanna Gillming, nurse navigator at Good Samaritan. “Probably 99% of our patients are completely shocked, first of all, that when they express a need, I walk away, I come back and I have $200 in my hand. It's not something we're going to turn in an application for and wait 30 days. It doesn't have any hitch to it. It's just given to them.”
Welsh recalls one patient who drove 30 miles each way and arrived one day with a flat tire. A radiation therapist noticed that all of the man's tires were “pretty much shot,” and they arranged to have the local Wal-Mart replace them. Another patient said she no longer had to decide between food and anti-nausea medication.
“I am a single mom of a 9-year-old son,” one patient wrote. “I found out I have breast cancer and I'm not sure what I would have done without the money the Cancer Center offered me. Thank you many times.”