Ray Carson, the American Cancer Society's Florida Division's vice president, provided the following statement Tuesday afternoon from the agency's state headquarters in Tampa regarding the Hope Lodge closing:
First, let me say that we are very proud of the Hope Lodge. Since it opened in 1993, it has served about 3,300 cancer patients. Recognizing that the average stay is about six weeks, that means we have provided about 138,600 room nights, free of charge over the past 13 years. With this track record, closing the facility was a tough choice but we could not stand in the way of the University's plans to expand its research facilities. ... We will be closing the facility on December 15 so we can prepare to hand over ownership of the Hope Lodge in March.
As for our plans to continue serving patients, we have been attempting to rent some apartments in the area of the Hope Lodge and offer them to patients based on need. We have secured a couple of apartments so far but there is not a lot of availability currently. We remain on waiting lists at a couple of facilities and plan to secure other apartments as they come available. When our apartments are full, we will encourage cancer patients in need of housing to call us at 1-800-ACS-2345 and they will be provided with a list of reduced cost rooms at area hotels/motels. For those in need of financial assistance, we can provide some help with those expenses. Additionally, by calling our toll-free number, patients can get information about our transportation program as well as other support programs that are available to them through the American Cancer Society."