Pete and Christy Dokken

A little over a year ago, I asked Pete and Christy Dokken if they would have lunch with me and let me pick their brains about the local real estate market. Med City Foundation’s board of directors was looking to expand lodging offerings to patients and I didn’t know where to start: Should we rent or buy? Should we look at single family homes or maybe a duplex?

I had called Pete about five years earlier after seeing his name on a large sign by Gibbs Elementary school in Rochester. My husband and I were thinking about moving but needed to sell our current home and figure out what we wanted to do next. It was a down market and so our house was losing value, but it seemed like an opportunity to upgrade.  Pete and Christy quickly became two people we spent more time talking and texting with than our own family. They coached us through letting go of the first home we had owned, and even got us through the purchase of our dream home, which wasn’t easy and took almost nine months (including poor Pete driving us all over Rochester to look at close to 30 or 40 homes…I lost track!) Kind of like your hair dresser, your real estate agent many times becomes a close friend in a short amount of time.

Christy and Pete are also landlords and after we brainstormed at lunch what our options would be, they offered to let Med City Foundation rent a home from them, on a month to month lease, so that we could experiment with having property. This was a low-risk way for us to test out property management and learn from our patients.

About nine months later we have learned something very critical: we need to have a house for our patients in stay in. There are other lodging options, such as hotels, extended stay hotels, and other non-profit or religious hospitality homes. However, what is currently lacking is the ability to give a family a home that is private, welcoming, and is their own.

The other critical take-away is the fact that many of these patients are not able to pay, or can pay very little. They are here for weeks, or even months, and during this time they are still supporting their real home, on little to no income while mounting medical bills pile up.

This home environment is so important, especially for families. Most children are not able to stay at the Hope Lodge or Gift of Life Transplant House, and the Ronald McDonald House allows children, if the child is the patient. But the young father with three children and a wife who want to stay together, have to look elsewhere. Even if these organizations did accept families, they are already over capacity. The Ronald McDonald house alone in Rochester turned away 1000 families in 2016!

We are so thankful to Pete and Christy for working with us, teaching me along the way, and allowing us to not just provide a home for these families, but also begin to look at what our focus needs to be. We are hopeful to find ourselves in a place to have more property in the future to continue this important service to patients and their families.

-Kristina

 

Dokken family
Pete, Christy, and their children.
Advertisements
Pete and Christy Dokken

Gift of Life Transplant House

Today is Ginger Holmes’ last day at the Gift of Life house as she celebrates her retirement. Med City Foundation is extremely grateful to her for her partnership and mentoring spirit over the last three years. We wish her all the best in her retirement! We are also thankful to have interviewed her this Spring for this blog to capture her spirit and dedication to Gift of Life Transplant house.

gol3

Gift of Life Transplant House started collaborating with the Med City Foundation one and a half years ago, and have been working closely together ever since. The Gift of Life Transplant House was started 1984 by Edward Pompeian, a two-time kidney transplant recipient, as a small eight bedroom home. Since then Gift of Life Transplant House has had three additions, now with a total of 87 beds, making them the largest transplant home in the country.

They provide a homelike setting for transplant patients and their caregivers to stay in Rochester during the time of the transplant. Each guest receives their own room to share with one or two additional caregivers while living areas like the TV room, kitchen, and dining room are all shared. The patients are going through similar experiences, and the shared spaces encourage support between patients and families.

Perhaps the most important part of the Gift of Life Transplant House’s mission is the sense of family and community within the house. Guests are welcome to stay as long as they need, and have been known to stay anywhere from three days to over three years. No one is ever turned away from the house, and if all rooms are filled, the house works to find an alternative for the patient and caregivers to stay such as a hotel at a reduced rate.

gol2

Although Gift of Life Transplant House historically only worked with organ transplant patients, they have recently expanded to welcome blood cancer patients to stay at their facilities if rooms are available. One of the biggest problems with blood cancer patients treatments is that they are long lasting causing many of these patients to be turned away from other housing options liked the Hope Lodge run by the American Cancer Society. Therefore, Gift of Life Transplant House opened their doors to them. Med City Foundation works closely with the transplant house to finding housing for the patients and their families when their locations are at capacity and vice versa.

In 2014, the Gift of Life Transplant House served 4,500 patients and their caregivers. In the next one and a half years, the transplant house is looking to expand and add approximately thirty new beds with additional kitchen, living room, and dining room spaces. The Med City Foundation and the Gift of Life Transplant House are committed to addressing the needs of blood cancer patients in Rochester area.

 

GOLGinger Holmes is the executive director of the Gift of Life Transplant House and oversees the operation of the home. She started as a volunteer at the Gift of Life Transplant House in 2010 and was then asked to serve on the board. In 2012, she was asked to be the executive director and has remained in that position ever since. Ginger says the best part of her job is seeing all the smiles from the patients and seeing their excitement when they get that call that they are getting a transplant.

 

 

Gift of Life Transplant House