Volunteers and donations help families in difficult times

Six years ago, Nancy Jones was sick, and she wasn’t getting better. She finally got the diagnosis: cancer.

The WVU Medicine Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center needed to perform a week of outpatient testing, but Jones lives in Beckley, a drive that takes her nearly five hours, and she couldn’t afford a hotel.

Jones felt hopelessness creeping in. She couldn’t stay for testing, much less the frequent visits for treatment that were to come, without help.

Help for Jones came through the Rosenbaum Family House, where she has found hope and comfort over six years of treatment.

“It let me know that there’s always someone there for you. They have your back. They would call me at home to just check on me. I’ve never had that experience with anywhere,” Jones said.

Rosenbaum Family House is one of more than 500 hospital hospitality houses in the nation celebrating National Hospitality House Week July 19-25. These houses provide an affordable place to stay for patients and their loved ones who have to travel for medical care.

“We believe that healing involves the entire family, and having loved ones close by, whether it be family or friends, it helps the healing process,” Jena Prokopchuk, director of Rosenbaum Family House, said.

Rosenbaum provides housing, showers, laundry facilities, two kitchens, internet, toiletries, and other comforts to adult patients and their guests who travel more than 50 miles for care at WVU Medicine. They have 40 rooms available, including a day room for people who simply need a nap or a shower. Many services, such as laundry and meals, are available to non-guests as well. The cost to stay is $20 per night, and no one is turned away for inability to pay.

Last year, Rosenbaum Family House served 1,607 families, 1,268 of whom were from West Virginia. This year, they are likely to meet or exceed those numbers.

In March 2014, Rosenbaum expanded into a brand new building with expanded facilities and 10 additional rooms. The larger facility allows the house to serve more guests and reduce its nearly constant waiting list. Previously, guests had to wait up to two weeks for a room to open up. Most patients completed treatment and returned home before a room was available. Now the wait is only one to three days and occasionally no wait at all.

This Hospitality Week, Rosenbaum Family House will be celebrating and promoting awareness of the service it provides and the needs it has to continue that service.

“I always say, whatever you use in your household, we need that times 40,” Prokopchuk said.

Guests often were not planning to stay overnight and need basic toiletries and other household items. The house also maintains a food pantry of non-perishable items for guests. A full wish list of needs is available online.

In addition, the Family House relies on volunteers to provide evening meals for its guests. It is a great opportunity for those who want to help but cannot commit to regular volunteer hours.

“People tend not to think about this type of service until they need it. This Hospitality Week is really to let the community know about what we do for our patients and our guests and how they can help if they’d like to help,” Prokopchuk said. “Never a day goes by when people don’t express their appreciation. You know that this service is valued and valuable and important to the patients here at WVU Medicine.”

Rosenbaum Family House is celebrating National Hospitality Week with a Wish List Drive within WVU Medicine and daily posts on its Facebook page celebrating the history and service the house offers.

To volunteer or donate or to take a tour of the facility, contact Teri Batis, development specialist, at 304-598-6094, ext. 4, or batist@wvuhealthcare.com.