Blue Jean Ball to Benefit McLean House
In the two-plus years since Martin Walker’s abrupt introduction to a life filled with inpatient hospitalizations and outpatient treatments for a chronic blood disorder, there have been many times when his wife would have appreciated a comfortable bed in a comfortable home away from home for the night.
Or a quick shower.
Instead, Betty Walker usually settled for — and was happy to get — a rollout recliner in her husband’s hospital room.
But no shower.
In 2010 alone, the Walkers traveled exactly 8,916 miles between their Sanford home and treatments for his myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst and Duke Medical Center in Durham, and for various miscellaneous physician visits near their former home in Concord. By mid-May of this year, they had already added another 4,000-plus miles to the 100,000 miles on their car.
“Now it’s got 150,000 miles on it,” says Martin.
During their Moore Regional visits, the Walkers have heard a lot about the Clara McLean House at FirstHealth, which will open on the hospital campus this fall. Because Martin’s health care journey has included several hospitalizations, four different chemotherapy regimens, and two years of bi-weekly blood and/or platelet transfusions, the services of the new hospitality house would have answered many a Walker prayer.
“I’m so excited about this house they’re doing,” says Martin.
“It will be a wonderful opportunity for people to have,” says Betty.
Proceeds from the 2011 Blue Jean Ball will support cancer patients and their families who use the Clara McLean House. The eighth annual Cancer CARE Fund fundraiser will be held Saturday, June 4, at the Fair Barn in Pinehurst.
“We are so excited about the opening of the Clara McLean House,” says Vivian Harrington, FirstHealth’s vice president of community services, “not only because it will offer affordable, temporary room and board to family members longing to stay close to their loved ones or for patients facing illnesses and surgeries at Moore Regional, but also because it will create an atmosphere with a sense of family and a home away from home. The support from the Blue Jean Ball is tremendous in getting the house outfitted with all the necessities of a warm, supportive home environment.”
Named for a longtime benefactor of the Foundation of FirstHealth, the Clara McLean House at FirstHealth will provide a safe environment for lodging, meals and other supportive services for patients and their families during any type of extended medical treatment at Moore Regional. Special staff members and trained volunteers will help create a family-like atmosphere that encourages guests to take advantage of as many of the McLean House services as they would like or need to use.
The house will feature 12 guest rooms, each with a private bath, cable TV, phone and access to voice mail and wireless Internet. There will also be living and dining areas, a kitchen and a laundry as well as flexible gathering spaces for all ages and a meeting space to accommodate educational programming.
The hospitality provided in the house will extend outdoors to a healing garden designed to provide a tranquil, natural setting for McLean House guests as well as for other visitors to the hospital campus.
Over the past several years, countless members of the community have given financial and volunteer contributions to make the McLean House a reality. In turn, support will be available to community members seeking the best available resources as they learn to live with their health issues.
For example, the McLean House will house the CARE-Net program, which for the past 10 years has provided the valuable volunteer “buddy system” to cancer patients. The program has recently been expanded to serve cardiac patients as well.
In addition to night lodging services, the house will offer a number of special program elements to its guests. These will include a weekly home-cooked evening meal provided by various local volunteer groups.
Since more than half of Moore Regional’s patients come from outside Moore County, the house will help reduce transportation costs for patients. Many now receive direct transportation costs from the Cancer CARE Fund (more than $80,000 last year).
“The hospital staff will take care of the patient’s clinical needs,” says Harrington, “but we can assist in the recovery process by taking care of the family and their day-to-day issues so they can all concentrate on the patient getting better.”
With any luck, Martin and Betty Walker are finished with extended hospitalizations at Moore Regional, but they hope other patients and families — especially those dealing with the lengthy treatments related to cancer — will benefit from the hospitality, respite and support that the Clara McLean House will provide.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing it,” says Betty. “I hope we never have to use it, but I’m really looking forward to seeing it.”
Brenda Bouser works for the corporate communications office of FirstHealth of the Carolinas.
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