ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Local non-profits who offer families a place to stay while they’re receiving treatment at hospitals are in a bind because of the coronavirus. Social distancing is making what they do that much more difficult.
Patients from across New Mexico are coming to the metro to get treatments for serious ailments like cancer, organ failure and high-risk pregnancies. They need somewhere safe to stay while getting that medical help.
“We realized with our families being immune compromised, we were going to have to put in a lot of other things,” said Chrisann Gray, Executive Director of Casa Esperanza.
Casa Esperanza gives patients and their caregivers a place to stay when receiving treatments like chemotherapy or for weeks at a time while they’re recovering from an organ transplant. The organization — which has about 28 rooms — is operating at about half capacity because of many cancer centers and hospitals reducing non-essential appointment for the time-being.
Workers are taking extra cleaning and social distancing measures to keep patients safe from the coronavirus. The rooms are now limited to only the patient and their caregiver, unless they also have children under the age of 18.
“The families that we do support, or the patients, really need, we’re still an essential organization that still has to have access to the medical care they need,” said Gray. “We’re down to the most essential patients who need to stay with us.”
The Ronald McDonald House Charities of New Mexico had to stop accepting new families in late March as a precaution. It was a tough decision because they provide families with a free place to stay while their child receives life-saving treatments.
“Anyone that was already there is welcome to stay as long as they need to, but we have not added any families since then,” said Jessica Wright, CEO of RMHC New Mexico. “The ones that are there, I suspect, unfortunately, they’ll be there quite a while with what their children are facing.”
They have about six families remaining there, when the building is normally serving 30. Families there are asked to go through a ‘sanitation station’ as they enter the building, are spaced far apart during meal time and are asked to stay in their rooms when possible.
Both organizations say while they navigate the pandemic and social distancing, they’re still helping families as much as they can. Since volunteers — including ‘guest chefs’ — are not allowed in either organization right now, they are having to cater meals for the families — something that’s not normally in their budget. If you would like to sponsor a meal for a family receiving treatment, you can donate online to RMHC-New Mexico and Casa Esperanza.