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A local favorite, the Little America Hotel, is easing the burden of people with cancer through Patient and Family Housing. The affordable hospitality is a welcome comfort for John Reichert. The 63-year old cancer patient travels nearly six hours from his home in Whitehall, Montana, to receive radiation therapy at Huntsman Cancer Institute.
"The daily treatment really saps you of your energy," says Reichert, a married father of three who has eight grandchildren. "I’m tired all the time. But I have to pick myself up and put one foot in front of the other. Anytime you’re away from home, and you have people who are accommodating, that’s a comforting thing. The hotel and Huntsman Cancer Institute staff go out of their way to make me comfortable."
Little America features spacious rooms and excellent amenities. It’s close to public transit, and is a short drive to Huntsman Cancer Institute and University of Utah (U of U) Hospital. This new partnership offers lodging for Huntsman Cancer Institute and U of U Hospital patients and their families for $50 a night and $300 a week. Guests have access to swimming pools, a fitness room, restaurants, and shuttle services to their medical appointments.
Making a patient’s stay as enjoyable and restful as possible is key to their recovery, says Alyson Harding, MS, ML, director of support services at Huntsman Cancer Institute. "I don't know if we can truly put into words the value of that. Caregivers can stay close to their loved one who's in the hospital, who needs their love and support. It’s a place for the caregiver and the patient to get some rest, which is important."
Harding says it’s also ideal for transplant patients who have been discharged from the hospital but still need to stay close for additional treatments. "Both the patient and the family member are able to stay with us, rest, and recover. It’s an extension of the care Huntsman Cancer Institute doctors and nurses provide patients. We hope they feel loved and supported in a tangible way through this special offering."
"The hotel and Huntsman Cancer Institute staff go out of their way to make me comfortable...It feels like home."John Reichert
Huntsman Cancer Institute rents a motel-like building at the hotel and runs it for patients and their families. On June 1, the first day of the partnership, Huntsman Cancer Institute staff registered 60 patients, filling to capacity. According to Harding, patients and their families are thrilled with the accommodations.
For Reichert, who retired from the military 10 years ago, Patient and Family Housing gives him a comfortable place to recover. "It’s relaxing. It takes away the stress and it takes away the fight I have with cancer. It takes you away from that for a moment. It feels like home. I go to church every Sunday. The lodging is a big part of maintaining that routine, which can be important during treatment."
Insurance or Medicaid may help cover the cost of lodging. Financial aid may also be available for guests who qualify.