July 17, 2013 – Flint, MI – One year to the day after groundbreaking ceremonies, McLaren Flint celebrated the opening of its $8 million Hospitality House at McLaren. A ribbon cutting ceremony, tours of the facility, a building dedication and video presentation highlighted the formal program today at the site of the new three-story, 43,000 sq. ft. structure.
Located at 3170 Beecher Road on the extended campus of McLaren Flint, the Hospitality House is a unique service in the Genesee County area, providing a “home away from home” for patients and family members undergoing services through McLaren Flint. It is especially designed to provide a convenient, comfortable and low cost housing option for patients undergoing highly specialized treatment for cancer at the new $70 million McLaren Proton Therapy Center, slated to open later this year.
A community fundraising campaign to support the development of the Hospitality House was launched in late January of 2012, and more than $5.9 million has been raised to date with donations continuing to be received for the project.
The mission of McLaren’s Hospitality House is to create a healing, caring and comfortable environment for patients and their caregivers, providing activities and facilities to help occupy and enrich the time between cancer treatments or other health care services.
The Hospitality House features 32 guest rooms (some suites for families), a large gathering room, a non-denominational reflection room, food preparation areas featuring fully-equipped kitchens, a dining room, library, exercise facility, laundry room, playroom, multi-use room for specialized therapies such as art therapy and massage, conference space for educational programs and entertainment, patio, outdoor walking trail and an RV park. The Flint-based firm of Sorensen Gross is the general contractor for the McLaren Hospitality House, and the architect is Design Plus.
McLaren has drawn upon a wealth of resources in developing the Hospitality House concept, including the expertise of university-based hospitality programs. This has led to a unique collaboration with the Hospitality Services Administration Program at Central Michigan University, which is providing student interns to help manage the Hospitality House operations and services.
Under the supervision of Hospitality House Director Teresa Williams, the first two student managers from Central Michigan University, Garrett Holmes and Kelsey Baptist, have spent the spring and summer working to support the Hospitality House opening and operations.
Cancer patients who have utilized the services of hospitality houses in other states have also provided valuable input about the advantages of the Hospitality House concept over traditional “motel” living.
Prostate Cancer Survivor Ben Hugan of Grand Blanc is one of these patients who stayed for several weeks at a Hospitality House in Indiana during his proton therapy treatment.
“At the Hospitality House, we didn’t just sleep there, we lived there,” he said. “We developed very close relationships with everyone there; it was like we were one big family renting a great big house together. It was a wonderful way to share experiences, and to support and be supported by other people who were experiencing what you were experiencing…you just don’t get all of that in a hotel.”
McLaren has also received an outpouring of support from many businesses and organizations in the community who have donated services and goods or who are on board to offer patients varied dining, recreational, cultural and shopping experiences during their stay at the Hospitality House.
Particularly when the McLaren Proton Therapy Center opens, patients will be staying at the Hospitality House for several consecutive weeks. With proton therapy, patients are required to undergo a course of treatment that extends over 5-6 days per week for 6-8 consecutive weeks. Since the McLaren Proton Center will be the only proton center in Michigan when it opens, and only the 12th in the entire United States, patients referred for this specialized treatment will be traveling from throughout Michigan, the Midwest and Canada. Further, the McLaren Proton Therapy Center will initially be the only one in the world to offer the latest generation of proton technology, promising an even greater referral network.
“For most people, insurance does not cover their lodging for this extended course of treatment, so they need an inexpensive place to stay,” noted Donald Kooy, President and CEO of McLaren Flint.
Kooy noted patients also need a place to stay that can offer a wide range of activities and community outreach. Since it only takes about an hour a day for the proton appointment, patients have many hours of free time to fill with activities at the Hospitality House as well as in the greater Genesee County community.
“Our goal is to offer a world class patient experience to go with the world class technology we are providing to patients,” Kooy emphasized.
- Laurie Prochazka
United States of America