Cancer can be a very costly diagnosis. In addition to the physical and emotional toll the disease takes on patients, it can also impose a tremendous financial burden—not simply due to the high cost of medical treatments. In fact, according to Jim Walrod, president of The Toledo Clinic Foundation, approximately two-thirds of cancer patients’ monetary expenses are actually non-medical, for example the cost of transportation to and from treatment appointments and lost wages. Of course, routine expenses such as rent, childcare/eldercare, and utilities continue to mount and become even more daunting as income declines.
He explains, “Success in beating cancer relies on a continuum of care, which can involve taking time off work multiple times each week for treatments and doctor appointments. Not working often means not getting paid, and those lost wages can be extremely impactful.”
The good news for Toledo Clinic oncology patients is that help in offsetting non-medical expenses is available through The Toledo Clinic Foundation, a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) charitable organization that was established in 2018 with that mission in mind.
All money raised by The Toledo Clinic Foundation goes to help patients in need—not to The Toledo Clinic—to defray expenses such as utility bills, groceries, or rent. “I’ve even seen an application approved to fix a broken-down car that the recipient depended upon to get to and from medical appointments,” Walrod says. To qualify for financial aid, patients are required to complete a formal application process and to submit the application with their bill. Then a committee reviews the application to determine whether the guidelines have been met. Once approved, funds are sent directly to the billing company or organization.
Walrod got involved in The Toledo Clinic Foundation back in 2018 at the urging of current members Mary Kern and Cindy Taylor. “I’ve been on a lot of boards, but this one really resonates with me because it’s a local board helping local people,” he says. As president, his current focus is on generating funds as well as raising awareness of the foundation and its mission throughout the community. He notes that with the COVID-19 pandemic still foremost in people’s minds, it can be challenging to get the word out, and he reminds HLN readers that cancer hasn’t stopped because of the coronavirus.
The Toledo Clinic Foundation’s fundraising and awareness campaign involves collaborating with community partners whenever possible. For instance, Lambie’s Legacy—which strives to “bring people together to support organizations that promote health awareness and cancer research in the hope of giving people more time to share the extraordinary moments of everyday life”—has provided a grant to the foundation in support of its mission. “Also, we’re currently encouraging Toledo Clinic employees to donate directly to the foundation as part of their monthly giving campaign, and we’ve reached out to Epic Toledo to help us attract more board members. Our goal is to raise money as efficiently as possible, and that involves partnering with other organizations,” Walrod says.
The Toledo Clinic Foundation welcomes the support of the general public as well and asks interested individuals to donate through the foundation’s website, ToledoClinicFoundation.org. Gifts can be made through the “Donate Now” button located on the site’s main page.
Walrod puts the current need for financial assistance in perspective: “Eighty percent of the people in Northwest Ohio who get diagnosed with cancer utilize a Toledo Clinic physician in one way or another. The Toledo Clinic’s reach is vast, so the need is great.”
The Toledo Clinic Cancer Centers, located at 4126 N. Holland Sylvania Road, Suite 105, also provides imaging, laboratory, chemotherapy and IV services. The cancer center consists of 7 medical and 2 radiation oncologists along with 8 nurse practitioners and 4 research nurses. The cancer center also has satellite centers in Maumee, Napoleon, Bowling Green, Wauseon, and Monroe.
The Toledo Clinic Cancer Centers has earned Patient-Centered Specialty Practice level 3 recognition and Oncology Medical Home recognition from the National Committee for Quality Assurance. Oncology homes align systems and resources with coordinated care focused on cancer patients and their needs. This reduces fragmentation, supports shared decision making, and improves the patient experience. They are the first oncology practice in the state of Michigan and the second oncology practice in the state of Ohio to receive this recognition.
For more information, please call The Toledo Clinic Cancer Centers at 419-479-5605.