For 13 years, Cathy Davis has opened the doors of her home to strangers in need. She’s the outreach coordinator for Hosts for Hospitals, a program that connects patients who have to travel for medical care with people who will provide them with temporary lodging, and she’s also used her home as a hosting location numerous times.
Before COVID-19, volunteers could simply designate which dates they would be able to host an individual or family and open their doors. But during the pandemic, patients can no longer stay in homes that have people in the house.
That’s made finding lodging for patients much more difficult.
“We have to think outside the box,” Davis said.
For example, a family is traveling from out of state for treatment at Fox Chase Cancer Center beginning Nov. 1. Northeast Philadelphia was already a sparse area for the program, and with the treatment date looming, Hosts for Hospitals is trying to spread the word and find a place for them.
Hosts for Hospitals covers the Greater Philadelphia area, with some hosts spread out into New Jersey. Most hosts are located in Center City, which gives patients easier access to multiple hospitals. Northeast Philadelphia homes are convenient for patients at Fox Chase Cancer Center and Shriners Hospital, Davis said.
Because of the COVID-19 restrictions, Hosts for Hospitals is looking for potential homes of families who will be away traveling. For this family specifically, who chose to remain anonymous, lodging will be needed from Nov. 1 to around Thanksgiving. Even if these dates do not align, hosts are needed for the area for future use.
Since the nonprofit began in 2000, more than 3,700 patients and families have been lodged in over 150 houses.
“I’ve done a lot of outreach for organizations, but when you’re a host you immediately see firsthand the impact you’re having on other people,” Davis said.
In her experience, Davis said she’s gotten to meet people from all around the world, and that their actions leave a positive impression on her children.
Normally when someone applies to be a host, Davis or someone from the nonprofit will tour the place, but interviews are currently being conducted virtually. Things like stairs, access to transportation and pets will be noted to provide guests with the best lodging for them, but there are no disqualifying criteria. Hosts are not responsible for things such as meals or transportation. They can host however frequently they want.
Lodging is available to anyone of any age or medical need who lives far enough from the hospital that commuting is a challenge. Guests must be a patient or support a patient receiving medical care from a Greater Philadelphia medical facility and, in times when there is no pandemic and they can stay with the host family, will be screened to make sure the host family is not at risk.
Anyone interested in learning how to be a host can call 484-380-2999 or email Lodging@HostsForHospitals.org. Find out more at HostsForHospitals.org. ••