October 24, 2008

Dozens of Places of Worship Join Together to Help Patient-Families in Need

Imagine that you or someone you love arrives from out-of-town to receive medical care only to find that there is nowhere for you to stay, certainly not for any length of time, certainly not at a price you can afford.

Since 2000 this need has been met in Philadelphia by HOSTS for HOSPITALS (HfH), a non-denominational nonprofit agency that provides FREE LODGING and support at volunteer-host homes as a caring response to the housing needs of patients and their families who have come to the Greater Philadelphia area for specialized medical care. Due to a $4 billion expansion underway among local hospitals, however, an ever-growing number of patient-families coming to Philadelphia find themselves without a place to sleep at night. Indeed, for the first time, HfH is turning patient-families away for lack of lodging to offer them.

In response to this urgent need, HfH has begun a city wide Host Recruitment Campaign to have 100 more homes available to lodge guests. A highlight of the campaign will occur November 15th and 16th, when HfH hosts will be speaking at almost 30 places of worship throughout the region. The HfH hosts will share how simple it has been for them to help patient-families in this way, with the goal of recruiting at least two new host-homes from each place of worship.

Hosts Sue and Reinhard Kruse of Center City hosted Ann Riggott of Rochester, Minnesota when Ann was receiving care at Wills Eye Hospital. Ann says,

"Providence provided not only a place to stay but a caring couple who opened their home and hearts. This was a blessing during a very scary time for me. At a time when I had no money for a hotel, I applaud HfH for placing me with people who treated me with such dignity and respect."

A host's only obligations are bed, bath and a little beyond: to provide a comfortable place to sleep, a clean bathroom and a feeling of home. HfH hosts retain complete flexibility with respect to whether, when and for how long they lodge guests. The guests are screened by HfH, and, are responsible for their own food and transportation.

People may also recruit new hosts by going to the HfH website (www.HostsForHospitals.org) and easily setting up Door Opener Page. Door Openers tell people they meet about being a host, and then add anyone they recruit to the door opener page. Recruiting even one more host make a huge difference--if that host lodges just three families a year for five years, the Door Opener would be responsible for helping 15 patient-families in need!

"We hope that when people hear about our recruitment efforts at churches and synagogues, they will invite us to speak at their own places of worship as well", explains HfH Executive Director Mike Aichenbaum. "Our website will have sections for each participating place of worship, with congregations being able to their own on-line host recruitment drive, set host recruitment goals and easily load thumbnail pictures of the new hosts recruited."

Host recruitment drives are especially critical due to the opening next year of the Roberts Proton Therapy Center at Penn's Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine. Craig Thompson MD estimates that more than 200 out-of-town patients will be treated daily. Dr. Thompson says, "Penn and volunteer families in the Philadelphia region have a unique opportunity to show the world that we are the City of Brotherly Love and improve the cancer experience for hundreds of families."

As Eileen Moran of Jeffersonville says of being a host, "it's like no other experience that I have had in my life, it's so enriching, it's such an easy way to do something so meaningful for someone else." Additional host-homes are needed throughout the Greater Philadelphia area. Anyone interested in becoming part of the HfH effort is invited to contact HfH Director Mike Aichenbaum by calling 215-472-3801 or emailing [email protected] Please also visit the HfH website to view a 7-minute video of hosts and guests enjoying life together: http://www.hostsforhospitals.org.

 Fact Sheet --------------------  -- Contact            Michael Aichenbaum  215-472-3801 phone information: Executive Director  215-472-3803 fax 4719 Pine Street    [email protected] Philadelphia, PA    www.hostsforhospitals.org 19143  -- From July 2000 and through September 2008, 262 host-families have provided 1,316 patient-families a combined total of 36,618 nights of lodging, thus saving these patient-families an estimated $2,252,000 in equivalent hotel expenses.  -- HfH has lodged patient-families from all 50 different states and over 65 different countries.  -- Interviews can be arranged upon request with a HfH host living within the distribution area of your media outlet, and, with persons from the hospitals and places of worship with which we partner. Past and perhaps current guests are also available for interview.  -- 28 places of worship are participating in the Host Recruitment Campaign as of October 20:  Center City                               University City District ----------------------------------------  ---------------------------- Arch Street United Methodist              Calvary Methodist Church First Presbyterian Church in              City Church Philadelphia Lutheran Church of the Holy Communion     Kol Tzedak Rodeph Shalom                             Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral St. Mark's Episcopal Church City Church   St. Francis de Sales Society Hill Synagogue                    West Philadelphia Mennonite Fellowship Temple Beth Zion Beth Israel Mt. Airy/Germantown/Chestnut Hill ---------------------------- Main Line                                 Germantown Jewish Centre ---------------------------------------- P'nai Or Jewish Renewal Beth Am Israel(Penn Valley)                Fellowship Beth David Reform (Gladwyne)              St. Paul's Episcopal Church Beth Hillel/Beth El (Wynnewood) Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church             Other ---------------------------- Church of the Holy Apostles (Wynnewood)   Al-Asque Mosque (Philadelphia) Church of the Redeemer (Bryn Mawr)        Manor Presbyterian (Faggs Manor) Har Zion Temple (Penn Valley)             Ridley Park United Methodist Main Line Reform (Wynnewood) St. Christopher's Church (Gladwyne) St. Mary's Episcopal Church (Ardmore)  -- HfH has received requests for lodging associated with over 40 area medical institutions, including:  1. Center City (Wills Eye Hospital, Pennsylvania Hospital, McGee Rehab Hospital, Hahnemann University Hospital, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital);  2. University City District (Presbyterian Hospital, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, the Veteran's Administration Hospital);  3. North Philadelphia and Eastern Montgomery County (Shriners Hospital, Moss Rehab, Temple Medical Center, Abington Hospital, the Fox Chase Cancer Center);  4. Northwest Philadelphia and beyond (the Renfrew Foundation, the Family Hope Center, the Institutes for Achievement of Human Potential); and,  5. Mainline: (Lankenau Hospital, Bryn Mawr Hospital.)