Hope Lodge reopens after COVID shutdown, Bridging the Great Health Divide

Published: Oct. 5, 2021 at 5:49 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The Gertrude C. Ford Hope Lodge in Jackson is reopened after the COVID closure, serving as a home away from home for cancer patients.

Without the free accommodations, many across the state would have to forego treatment. Hope Lodge is Bridging the Great Health Divide.

“It’s just been a lifesaver,” said Gwen Vansciver.

The Decatur resident was one of the first guests to return to Hope Lodge after its reopening. The 73-year-old is undergoing treatment for esophageal cancer. She lives an hour and a half away and, without Hope Lodge, feels she may have had little hope.

“If I had to travel back and forth every day and somebody would have to take off work to bring me, and I’m just not sure I could even have the treatments, to be honest with you,” said Vansciver.

The American Cancer Society’s facility provides free housing to patients who are under active cancer treatment and live 40 miles or more away from the treatment center. Before the pandemic shutdown in 2019, it served 332 guests for more than 4,800 nights. Last year there were only 167 guests, staying over 2,800 nights before the doors closed.

“We are a non for profit organization, so we are solely run on donations and community involvement,” said Hope Lodge Senior Manager Sydenie Howard. “It takes a village to run this place, and we’re able to provide our guests with anything and everything they need.”

And now they need donations to continue providing lodging for cancer patients far from home. The 32 room facility can provide lodging for up to 64, including the patient, family, and a caregiver.

“It’s a wonderful place to be,” added Vansciver. “I mean not so much the fact that you’re here, but if you have to be somewhere, this is the place to be.”

The American Cancer Society is hosting its annual fundraiser, the Great Strides Walk at Trustmark Park, on October 23 at 9 a.m.

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