(07/17/12) - Cancer patients receiving advancement treatment in Flint are closer to a "home away from home".
Tuesday, McLaren Medical Center in Flint broke ground on an $8 million Hospitality House on Beecher Road.
It's a place for patients and their families to stay while undergoing radiation therapy right next door at the McLaren Proton Center.
McLaren Flint has a partnership with Central Michigan University. Hospitality and tourism students there played a major role in the design and functionality of the house.
Garrett Holmes, a Central Michigan senior, will be the first ever student manager at McLaren's Hospitality House on Beecher Road.
Holmes, a Flushing High School graduate, looks forward to providing cancer patients with more than just a place to stay.
"The biggest thing is providing a home away from home," Holmes said.
Holmes and his fellow students were on hand for Tuesday's ground breaking ceremony. The Hospitality House will have space for about 100 patients. Amenities include a laundry room, a gym, a kitchen and even a walking trail. Architects consulted with CMU students on the building's design.
"We could see the final changes in the blue print and from there we've been working on training programs, concierge services," Holmes said.
"It's really going to give us a world class patient experience to go with world class technology, if we didn't have the house it would be very inconvenient," said Dan Kooy, McLaren Flint president.
Kooy says the Proton Therapy Center draws people from all over the region - and the Hospitality House is one less worry off their minds.
"Here they can stay for free if they have to or pay very little, and also get to have a positive experience with all the other patients that are here," Kooy said.
Ben Hugan, of Grand Blanc, underwent an advanced treatment called Proton Therapy beginning in 2008, and beat prostate cancer.
"I'm not in remission, I'm cured," he said.
He and his wife Jean spent eight weeks in Bloomington, Indiana.
"We called it our radiation vacation," Ben said.
Instead of spending months at a hotel, they stayed at a Hospitality House.
"Ever since we were at the hospitality house in Bloomington for my cancer, we wanted that here," Ben said.
"I didn't think I wanted to stay in a house with a bunch of people. I'm pretty private, but boy once you got in there, people became friends, did things together," Jean said.
The Hugan's wish came true.
"It's like if you don't have the hospitality house, you're only getting half the treatment," Ben said.
It's all part of McLaren Flint's mission to provide a world class patient experience to match its world class technology. The Hugan's hope this house will provide the same comfort to others that it did for them.
"You get the ability to talk to so many people who have the same problems that you have and try to encourage them, but then you get encouraged yourself and it makes eight weeks pass so fast," Ben said.
Hospitality House is expected to be completed by March. They still need to raise a little less than $5 million to complete the house.
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