Sunday, May 24, 2009

May 2009 Notice and Project Alert

This one page notice provides latest participation in support of the UVA Medical Center. Beginning in April, now in May, we are funding two accounts in the UVA Medical Center Office of Social Work. One account pays for co-pays for Pay Range 1 (indigents) and the other account pays for local bus tickets for this same group for return home across town. These were unmet needs which encompass many local patients, but simply needed our earliest participation. It was simply too alarming to know that a patient could receive prescriptions, and not be able to meet the smallest co-pays, and then not have money for a bus ticket home in Charlottesville. We started where the need seemed most urgent, and we will fund these accounts monthly.

We have begun to assist those patients and families who cannot afford the $10 per night lodging offered by UVA Hospitality House. The first family stayed almost three weeks. It was a situation which involved three women visiting a dying brother who did not have the funds to stay during his last days. Our help allowed them to remain nearby at a pivotal time during their family’s sadness.

Project Alert: We received a request from UVA Medical Center’s Director of Social Work for support for the Wise, VA Remote Area Medical (RAM) clinic. Noel Dianas-Hughes asked if we could provide funds to support vouchers for medication (narcotics) for pain control, especially for dental work at the RAM from July 23-26, 2009. Support of up to $1000 is needed. Vouchers are issued by pharmacists to patients at RAM that cannot be issued on site, so the patients can obtain their medications at area pharmacies in Wise, VA. Last year over 2,600 were treated in the fairgrounds at Wise, mostly by volunteer medical personnel from UVA Medical Center. 200 team members will be at RAM in July.

Your tax deductible contribution with a check for $10, $25, $50 or more, can quickly meet this need. For your convenience you may use our PayPal Donation button located on the “Donate Now” page by clicking here: .Remaining funds will be directed toward the other accounts.

Monday, May 18, 2009

We’re back with a Powerful New Vehicle for Good Works

There is a point in life when one is walking the talk, and it can be very consistent; but, then there is that vital intersection when one must LEAP! This message is about our faith in our contacts and friends and all others who feel the compassion for those truly faced with burdensome challenges in our community.

We can and have established a vehicle, a charity, and placed ourselves in the marketplace to channel an opportunity for others to make a difference. Our initial handout (4 pages) was printed and is available. That item is now presented for your further review with more facts and figures. It follows this introduction. I know this is a lot of reading in one blog offering, but initial education with substance is needed to sense the good works which this represents. And this my friends is the best idea we have had in years!

Last December was that point where we were having discussions with the University of Virginia (UVA) Medical Center Department of Social Work, Chief Chaplain, UVA Hospitality House and Ronald McDonald House, along with other supporting staff. Those discussions were about the numerous unmet needs which existed for those patients and visiting families who arrive in Charlottesville with meager means, often without funds to balance lodging, food, travel and even co-pays (for patients in what is known as pay range 1, indigent category).

There was agreement that another helping hand could be a tremendous help in filling the gaps. So – T. Wade and I decided to move to a new level of involvement, and start the process for a new charity, a non-religious, nonprofit, no stock organization to raise funds to “weave a new safety net.” It needed to be registered with IRS for allowance of donors to receive tax deductions. This is vital for a private person or company to be able to donate and receive that deduction in order to continue a sustained contribution.

Such an undertaking is a considerable challenge, and preparation has been rather consuming, but we are ready to serve for the years ahead. We now need for those who appreciate this community and the marvelous institution which is the University of Virginia and its Medical School teaching center and trauma center to provide a sustaining gift monthly to allow for relief for so many being served by the medical professionals.

The last months have been dedicated to establishment of Interfaith Humanitarian Sanctum (IHS). This is the new charity. It has a website, thanks to Sam McLawhorn, who has joined us in a full time capacity as needed, also without pay, to make this safety net strong. It has a list of valued advisors, all with intimate knowledge of our objectives and first-hand knowledge of these unmet needs for patients and visitors to the hospital. The list of people making valuable contributions are many, but the leadership list is located on the website at

Please be aware that we have several websites, but our charity efforts are from IHS as described above. Therefore, it is vital that e-mail from IHS is recognized as being from us, and not be routed to junk mail.

Please know that our initial involvement has begun. As of April 2009 two accounts have been opened in the UVA Department of Social Work. One account is receiving a monthly IHS check to cover co-pays for pay range 1, and the other account is for purchase by that office of transit tickets for these same patients to return home across town. It is a beginning, and will be sustained. NOW – we must move toward assistance with lodging.

Let me tell you about a family with a patient in the hospital who is 20 years old, and dying of cancer. I will not be specific in this description, but his two older sisters and mother arrived with funds for one week to be with the patient. They only had funds to support themselves for one week. The doctor indicated that they needed to arrange a stay for about two more weeks, but they simply could not fund for lodging and food.

Fortunately, UVA Hospitality House (HH) received an opening for them for the extra two weeks, but they still did not have funds to pay for the $10 per night room rate. IHS sought and received consideration for the extra weeks and will pay for lodging, and has also given the family food money for a few days until more access is available to them at HH.

This is only one family which desperately needed these final days with their son, their brother. We were able to lift the stress of how to fund these valued days. We simply must allow this opportunity to repeat itself for future families.

Before we leave this initial blog message and present the handout for your further reading, allow me to return to the pages of A.L. Alexander’s marvelous book of poetry, “Poems that Touch the Heart.” There is a poem which has rippled down to us through the years and most of you know of it, but perhaps not the entire poem or its author, James W. Foley.

This lovely poem echoes through us as we go forward with this new charity. What we all drop into the pool of contributions to make good works happen will ripple through the hearts and minds of those served, and create a ripple which they experienced when they had a need to visit a small town in central Virginia. Charlottesville will be a point of many ripples, because kindness flows from this center of compassion.

Thank you… and enjoy James W. Foley’s poem and please read the new handout which follows. You will learn much more and feel secure with our appeal.

Drop a Pebble in the Water

“Drop a pebble in the water; just a splash, and it is gone;
But there’s a half a hundred ripples circling on and on and on,
Spreading, spreading from the center, flowing on out to the sea.
And there is no way of telling where the end is going to be.

Drop a word of cheer and kindness; just a flash and it is gone;
But there’s a half a hundred ripples circling on and on and on.
Bearing hope and joy and comfort on each splashing, dashing wave
Till you wouldn’t believe the volume of the one kind word you gave.

Drop a word of cheer and kindness: in a minute you forget;
But there’s gladness still a-swelling, and there’s joy a-circling yet,
And you’ve rolled a wave of comfort whose sweet music can be heard
Over miles and miles of water just by dropping one kind word.”


Interfaith Humanitarian Sanctum, Inc.

"Weaving a new safety net for patients and their families at UVA Medical Center who need temporary assistance with lodging, food, travel expenses and co-pays."

A personal appeal from Rev. Elisheva Clegg, Interfaith Minister, Pastoral Counselor, M.A. and Chaplain Volunteer, UVA Medical Center, Charlottseville, VA ... and founding member of Interfaith Humanitarian Sanctum, Inc.

Last year I began conferring with UVA Medical Center’s Director of Social Work and the Chief Chaplain, along with other supportive staff. They confirmed that there is a growing population of hospital visitors (both patients and family members) who arrive in Charlottesville with meager means, often unemployed and not insured.

These visitors, mostly families clinging to hope as a loved one lingers in critical status, face a gigantic balancing act to pay for lodging, food and travel. There are also patients who arrive for appointments for diagnosis and treatment. All are seeking to balance their health care needs with the cost of basic necessities.

It was determined that there are four major categories of unmet needs: lodging, transportation, food and co-pay assistance.

Where shall I start?

In February 2009 alone, UVA Medical Center Department of Social Work received requests for lodging from 61 contacts (individuals and families) who could not be accommodated. Those 61 contacts were unable to obtain lodging at the UVA Hospitality House (HH), with its $10 per night room rate (plus 4 very reasonable rental suites). Why? Because they did not meet certain qualifying guidelines:
> Age restrictions: 20 > Multiple family members: 11 > NO vacancies: 30

UVA Hospitality House (HH) and Ronald McDonald House (RMH) offer the most affordable room rates. Their professional caring staffs work diligently to assist guests. Total rooms at HH: 31. Total rental suites through HH: 4. Total rooms at RMH: 18. These same assets experience frequent full occupancy, and due to limited capacity, have necessary restrictions.

Let’s do the math: Using February 2009 as an example, that’s 732 contacts who will be directed elsewhere for lodging in 2009!

Where do all these people go?

Some will opt to use their funds for the most reasonable hotel rooms for as long as the money lasts, and sacrifice other necessities, especially eating. Some families must go home and leave the person who needs them for support. Some will huddle in the hospital lobbies, and waiting areas, all day, some with children… until night… and then…they will all sleep in a car somewhere near the medical center. Many will snack on crackers and soft drinks, and try not to risk their gas money for return home.

These are not the homeless, although many face an economic crisis due to their health care needs. The situation I am describing is so diminishing, so desperate, so depressing…yet so few outside of Social Work, Chaplaincy, and perhaps nurses and security personnel know the sadness which surrounds this healing center, when there is no fund, no alternative for immediate lodging, food, travel and co-pay money for prescriptions.

WAIT…there’s more!

A growing patient population in the indigent category (verified pay range 1) can not afford their co-pay for prescriptions. All too often, prescriptions are simply not filled. Let’s do the math: There are about 50 monthly requests for co-pay assistance for which there is no fund. That’s no less than 600 requests for 2009!

There are also 45-50 monthly requests, according to Social Work, for gas or transport funds for those over 60 miles away. Let’s do the math: That’s 600 requests for 2009! In addition there is also a need for transit system bus tickets locally.

The Department of Social Work has very limited funds for providing food assistance. Out of necessity these hospital visitors are directed to Charlottesville Soup Kitchens. The other alternative is a one-time weekly box from the food bank accessible through Embarq; however, the food box is more suited for preparation in a kitchen.

“We sincerely believe that once the facts are known, there is no need to create an emotional appeal. Isn’t one member of a family in crisis enough suffering? Must the entire group endure unbearable circumstances just to be supportive?”

Don’t forget about the annual RAM Clinic…

There is a group of patients referred to the UVA Medical Center each year following a screening at the annual Remote Area Medical (RAM) Clinic in Wise, VA. Last year the RAM Clinic treated 2,600 people over a 3-day period at the Wise Fairgrounds. Most of the professional volunteers (doctors, nurses, social workers, technicians) are from Charlottesville. Last year over 50 people at the RAM Clinic were referred to the UVA Medical Center.

The RAM patients can not afford a doctor appointment in their community. Their only option is that one-time annual review in a fairground. Therefore, when a critical diagnosis and treatment is referred locally, that unemployed and uninsured patient still must make decisions regarding travel, food and yes, even lodging, when Hospitality House is full. The number of patients from RAM Clinic is always subject to increasing numbers.

What about Ronald McDonald House?

This facility is available to families who have a child patient in treatment. There is a reasonable fee, and the professional staff is outstanding. There are some restrictions, but the families who stay at Ronald McDonald House (RMH) tend to need lodging from one week to many months. When RMH is full, many families will not have anywhere to stay for extended periods.

Try to imagine a mother who is a guest staying at RMH with several other children, some back at home with a relative and little support, having to stay in Charlottesville for many months, while one child awaits a heart or lung transplant. She is asked to stay near the sick child as much as possible, and yet the other children must be monitored as they accompany that mother every single day. The stress can be over-whelming even when everyone at RMH is bending over backwards to find ways to assist. This is a typical family dilemma at RMH.

There were 40 requests to stay at RMH in February 2009 who had to be referred elsewhere because the facility was full.

Interfaith Humanitarian Sanctum, Inc. (IHS)

This new independent charity partners with, but is not affiliated with, the UVA Medical Center. Our immediate objectives are easily understood, namely to raise funds for all the unmet needs herein described, but we remain open to filling larger gaps as the need presents itself.

“This charity was formed expressly to seek to be another helping hand, another safety net, for the overflow of UVA Medical Center patients and their families in need of temporary assistance for lodging, food, travel and co-pays.”

The value of your tax deductable contribution of
$50.00 will support one night of commercial lodging for a patient’s family…
$100.00 will support one night lodging and meals for 2 days for a family…
$150.00 will support one night of lodging, 2 meals for 2 days and gas for return home.

Where we must go and why

To reduce dependency on commercial lodging, which is costly and subject to availability, especially in summer, over holidays and on evenings or weekends of large UVA events, IHS has a long-term vision.

Our Vision is a permanent location, preferably a farm, which can be developed for consolidation of the overflow of lodging and food needs, for both short-term and extended periods.

Imagine a pastoral setting with dedicated buildings and staff to (1) meet the physical needs of UVA patients and their families with lodging and food service; (2) counsel and care for the psychological and spiritual needs of guests; (3) develop an active farm to meet the food needs of our guests; (4) provide a guest-friendly, outdoor environment, for relief of stress on all family members, especially for children; (5) make available as a community space for weddings, memorials, funerals, meetings, concerts, whereby all fees derived would be dedicated to maintaining the charity’s location and its programs.

Please visit our website and note that our volunteer advisors and officers are intimately familiar with our goals. We anticipate paid staff only when a permanent location dictates professionals on site. Your consistent tax deductable donations to IHS will establish that the Charlottesville community, with all its advantages, extends a compassionate, helping hand to its visitors with the greatest need.

Interfaith Humanitarian Sanctum
P.O. Box 163,
Palmyra, VA 22963

Ph: (434) 591-0700 e-mail:
Alt Ph: (434) 589-4864