The Foundation
for Barnes-Jewish Hospital

The Gift that Couldn’t Wait

May 9, 2010

A Family Makes a Generous Choice When Help is Needed More than Ever


*Editor’s note: The donors featured in this article have requested anonymity.


They were a typical family, enjoying the fruits of life and their love for each other, when cancer struck. 


Thrust into an unfamiliar world, the family soon began to share the shock, stress and fear familiar to all whose sole focus becomes fighting the disease. Yet this experience also brought clarity.


“Throughout my husband’s treatment, I began to realize the depth of burdens that patients with cancer and their families face,” the patient’s wife says. “Our family also realized how lucky we were to have the means to bear these burdens. So many other families were not as fortunate.  I’ll always remember their faces.”


For this family, there was not a happy ending. But from their grief arose determination. “We vowed to do anything we could do to better the lives of people with cancer,” the patient’s wife says. 


Making Life Better for Everyone with Cancer


With no fanfare or desire for publicity, the family created a Barnes-Jewish Hospital Foundation fund in memory of the loved one they lost. They dedicated the fund to supporting needs that bring comfort or healing to cancer patients and their families at the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine. These needs are often just out of reach for families because of cost.


The family also committed to replenishing the fund every year with an annual gift, and promised a major gift through a bequest. Barnes-Jewish Hospital’s Case Management and Social Services Department put the family’s fund to work immediately by covering the costs of wigs, walkers, rent, utilities, transportation, lodging, and medications — anything to keep cancer patients self-confident, mobile, relaxed, close to family and healthy.


This family’s giving, along with many other generous gifts, have enabled Barnes-Jewish Hospital to reach out to many Siteman cancer patients and their families at their most vulnerable moments so that they could focus on the most important goal: getting well. 


The Moment of Truth


Letters from the Foundation told the family of the patients blessed by their giving over the years. But when the economy plummeted in 2008, the family learned that severe challenges also lay ahead. The number of people needing help soared as patients lost jobs and health insurance, while the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Foundation was forced to reduce its traditional allocations for patient care and social services. 


The family knew that help could not wait. In a spirit of amazing empathy, the family’s lead donor decided to convert the intended bequest into an immediate gift of $525,000 to the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Foundation in the summer of 2009.


“We cannot give enough thanks to this family and other Foundation donors to patient care funds,” says James H. Hoerchler, LCSW, who manages adjunctive therapies for Case Management and Social Services at Barnes-Jewish. “I know of no other hospital that is privileged to help patients the way we do at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.”


Helping the Human Being in Front of You


When Hoerchler thinks of the family who restructured their deferred gift so that more cancer patients can be helped now, he hopes they know the profound difference they’re making in people’s lives.


“It is such a wonderful feeling to help someone with something many of us can afford to take for granted,” Hoerchler says. “When you hand medicine to a patient and they thank you with tears in their eyes…well, it keeps you incredibility motivated. It reminds you that although many things compete for your attention in health care, the most important thing is the human being in front of you.”


For more information on the many ways that you can give to support these services and many others, please call David Sandler at 314-286-0599, e-mail givingbarnesjewish@bjc.org, or visit www.givingbarnesjewish.org.


Some of the People Whose Lives Were Touched by Cancer Patient Care and Social Service Funds


Mrs. R., a self-employed woman from rural Missouri whose husband abandoned her and her daughter after Mrs. R was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Six weeks of paying to stay in St. Louis for daily radiation treatments, followed by four months of chemotherapy that left her too fatigued to work, depleted her savings. Your gifts enabled our hospital to give Mrs. R peace of mind and a safe home environment for healing by helping to pay for some of her utilities.


Mr. W., a cancer patient who came to Siteman for his first round of treatments. When Mr. W’s income proved to be insufficient for covering the cost of medication co-pays, your gifts enabled our hospital to help him with these so he could continue his cancer treatment without interruption. 


Mr. M., who traveled to Siteman from Kennett, Mo., for surgery to treat jaw cancer.  After physicians detected another large tumor, they whisked Mr. M back to surgery.  His family wanted to stay at his side after this unforeseen event, but struggled to afford this because of their extremely limited income.  Your gifts enabled our hospital to cover a week of lodging for Mr. M’s wife and daughter so they could be here to support him during his recovery.


Barnes-Jewish Hospital’s Case Management and Social Work staff rely on the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Foundation’s patient care and social services funds to help the most vulnerable in our community — the uninsured, the underinsured, and the unemployed — focus on treatment and healing instead of worrying about financial burdens during a hospital stay, extended treatment and recovery.


These funds support services that are unreimbursable, yet essential to positive patient outcomes.  Gifts to the Foundation provide the funding as part of our hospital's community health mission.  Every gift to patient care and social service funds is crucial to ensuring that we can continue offering these vital services.  We thank all who give for this purpose. 


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