Harbin Clinic Tony E. Warren Cancer Center

Harbin Clinic Tony E. Warren Cancer Center. 

Cancer patient advocates who work with Harbin Clinic and Summit Quest said they’re seeing an increase in calls for assistance due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“There’s been a lot of need in the regular lives of our cancer patients,” said Miriam Little, a social worker at Harbin Clinic.

“When cancer hits, it hits food insecurity and delinquent housing. Now on top of that, here comes the wave of what coronavirus brings, and it hits them harder,” she said “Having fear of going out for basic supplies and not being able to have family supports because everyone is supposed to be in their house.”

Summit Quest, a cancer advocacy organization, operates the Acts of Kindness program, which supports the families of cancer patients during times of crisis. The group has dedicated $10,000 to help with groceries, transportation to and from treatments, and housing security for cancer patients.

“What we’re seeing is an increased crisis due to COVID-19,” said William James, the founder and executive director. “We’re using that money to work with our medical partners … to identify families who are facing increased moments of crisis.”

Some of the families that Summit Quest serves are now down to one income. James also pointed out that with kids being at home all the time, families might have more demand for groceries than normal.

“Some are terrified of just going grocery shopping,” he said.

The nonprofit has made some grocery runs for people. They are also using some of the money to get people to and from their cancer treatments, since transportation has been part of an ongoing issue during the COVID-19 crisis.

There’s also the fact that patients have to keep up with their mental health during a time when it isn’t necessarily safe for them to go outside.

For now, Summit Quest has ceased their support groups since cancer patients have a higher risk of developing complications from a COVID-19 infection. James did say that they are still doing their best to check in with families.

“We’ve just tried to do a call list and maintain contact with our families,” he said. “They’ve still got support, we’re still here. We haven’t gone anywhere. Summit Quest is more than a nonprofit. We’re a family.”

For Little, she said she hopes that there will be a better long term plan developed to deal with a crisis like this for cancer patients, especially in Rome.

“There’s really nothing that’s available in our community,” she said. “We have a great community and great resources, but they’re really scarce for our cancer patients.”

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