Cancer Care at Virginia Mason Memorial continues to be an emergent need across the Yakima Valley. Annually, North Star Lodge sees more than 1,200 new patients and more than 5,000 unique patients. On a typical day, there are an average of 300 patients who visit North Star Lodge.
With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in our community, staff at North Star Lodge have been hard at work converting patients to telehealth visits – all while continuing to safely see most chemotherapy and radiation patients. The focus is delivering the safest care to an extremely vulnerable patient population.
The navigation team and social workers are collaborating to identify patients who live alone and may need groceries or medications. They are reaching out to make sure these patients have their basic needs met. Last week one patient onsite for chemotherapy confided in a social worker that he was out of milk and afraid to go to the store due to the virus. During that very same appointment, the Cancer Care Emergency Fund allowed a North Star Lodge volunteer to purchase milk for him. What seems like a small gesture was actually something much larger that helped this compromised patient feel safe and have access to fulfil their needs.
Cancer does not stop just because we are in the midst of a pandemic. It keeps on going. Cancer patients need our community now more than ever because for so many of them the choice to delay treatment has risks that far outweigh COVID-19. But after the initial COVID-19 crisis is over, it’s projected North Star Lodge will be facing a surge of patients who have a delayed diagnosis of cancer because of the interruption to normal medical care and screening.
Vulnerable individuals most at risk for the COVID-19 are also patients receiving life-saving therapy at North Star Lodge. The needs in our valley don’t stop for a pandemic. Continue to show your support for local cancer care programs like the Emergency Fund at North Star Lodge by giving to The Memorial Foundation today here.