Sorority donates check for new oncology wing

Published 8:41 am Friday, March 1, 2019

DOWAGIAC — On Wednesday, Ascension Borgess-Lee Hospital received a $1,500 check from Beta Sigma Phi, a Cass County-based sorority. The check was donated by the eight-person sorority for the Dowagiac hospital’s oncology department, which is in the planning stages for a renovation that will update its facilities, open its space and give patients and their families more comfortable accommodations.

Tim Bradley, the manager of oncology and surgical services, said the check was a gratefully accepted donation for a project that will directly benefit his patients.

“We’re very thankful for the donation. We want to provide very personalized and thorough care for our cancer patients. We want to provide an area where they’re comfortable, where their families are comfortable, something that’s more appealing. Donations like this are how we’re going to get there,” Bradley said.

Currently, the renovation plan will combine two rooms with a complete remodel to provide a nurse’s station that will oversee both spaces. Bradley said the remodel will allow his department to provide more personalized care and privacy for patients that are not feeling well, and for their families and visitors. Like other parts of the hospital that have been redone in recent years, the oncology wing is simply aging out of its current space.

“The age of the hospital affects all of us. We’ve been fixing areas in recent years. The oncology department is next on the renovation list as far as importance,” Bradley said.

Natalie Ryder, the chief administrative officer for ABLH, said the renovation plan will cost an estimated $500,000. That number is down from $1.4 million plan the hospital originally started with.

“I think it’s well worth it and it’s been a long time coming. We celebrated our 100-year anniversary here, so we’ve been serving the community for a long time. Although the building is old, it’s these donation dollars that help us to be able to continue to provide the services that the community needs,” Ryder said.

The oncology renovation will not only provide better facilities for patients, it will offer accommodations closer to home for many patients, according to Ryder.

“The patients we see here are close knit to the community, they don’t want to travel, so we need to give them the comfort that they deserve here,” Ryder said.

Sorority president Sherrie File agreed with Ryder.

“I’ve been through breast cancer,” File said. “It means a lot to have your oncology close to home.”

Because of her own experience and the nature of the work of her sorority, File felt a duty to her community to contribute to a cause that she personally knows.

“We’re only eight people, but we do raise a lot of money and give it to all women in Cass County,” she said.

“The foundation is extremely appreciative of this gift. I’m amazed at the generosity of the community and I think hopefully this will continue and hopefully we can do great things in our oncology department,” Cripe said.