After the COVID-19 pandemic forced the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge in Jackson to shut down in 2020, officials with the nonprofit were excited to reopen earlier this year.
They planned a celebratory grand reopening ceremony to be held Thursday to help get the word out that cancer patients and their caregivers who live more than 40 miles outside Jackson could once again stay at the lodge, free of charge, while undergoing their treatment at several of the city’s hospitals.
But on Monday, three days before the Thursday ceremony, 11 cancer patients and their caregivers staying at the lodge were forced to evacuate Jackson when the capital city’s water system began failing.
The American Cancer Society is footing the bill for their hotel rooms outside of Jackson.
“We don’t want patients to have to delay their treatment just because we’ve got water problems in Jackson,” said Letitia Thompson, vice president of regional cancer support for the American Cancer Society. “So we’ve been able to find and pay for them to stay in area hotels.”
Patients also have access to a van to transport them to and from their treatment.
Thompson said the lodge, which first opened in 2019, is experiencing fluctuations in water pressure that have created plumbing issues. Patients and their caregivers continue to be housed at the suburban hotel, and Thompson said they will not be brought back to the lodge until it’s had a week of reliable water pressure.
“(The water pressure) comes and goes … Certainly the American Cancer Society works hard to be good stewards of the dollars people give us, but we can’t put cancer patients at risk. We don’t want cancer patients to wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to flush the toilet,” she said.
The lodge accommodates patients who are getting treatment at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, St. Dominic Memorial Hospital, Mississippi Baptist Medical Center and other treatment centers in Jackson. A patient must first receive a referral from a treatment facility to begin the process of using the lodge.
Thompson also said the organization is working to offer its services to cancer patients who live in the Jackson area as well.
“We want to be there for cancer patients who are dealing with this water shortage who live here in Jackson,” said Thompson. “We’re working to set up a system to take referrals and requests for cancer patients who might need hotel rooms for whatever time they need it … We want to eliminate as many barriers for treatment as we can.”
For more information from the American Cancer Society, call 1-800-227-2345 or visit www.cancer.org.