A dream of local heart transplant patients and volunteers is coming true much earlier than expected thanks to a generous gift provided by a local nonprofit organization.
A home that will cater to transplant and critical care patients and their families who must travel from out of town for care at the University of Rochester Medical Center is now a reality. Harbor House of Rochester was announced today and will open later this summer.
The four-bedroom cape, built in 1948, is located in the Mt. Hope Neighborhood at 89 Rossiter Road, two short blocks from the Medical Center. It is approximately 1,900 square feet, currently with four bedrooms, two baths. It is being renovated to create four bedrooms with four private baths.
Volunteers associated with the Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation have for three years been raising money for a future home for adult patients and their families, similar to the Ronald McDonald House model that assists pediatric patients and their families. An annual dinner and auction, called “And the Beat Goes On,” began the long-term process of raising funds for a hospitality house. The third event was held June 14.
The Jennifer Linscott Tietgen Family Foundation, a nonprofit based in Rochester, heard through news stories in 2007 about the efforts of heart transplants patients and their families, as well as staff of the Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation. The organization that for five years has been quietly providing funding for worthy causes in the Finger Lakes region was immediately struck by the significant need for a home such as Harbor House.
“The Jennifer Linscott Tietgen Family Foundation is grateful to have a role in creating a safe harbor for patients and their families as they face unplanned medical journeys,” said Betsy Tietgen, foundation president. Ken and Betsy Tietgen and their family formed the JLT Family Foundation in 2002 to honor their daughter, Jennifer, who lost her life at age 27 to melanoma.
Those who began to dream about a hospitality house in 2006, including heart transplant recipient Tom Arcara and his wife, Chris, are ecstatic the project has become a reality so soon.
“For patients and families who must come from out of town and stay indefinitely, Harbor House will offer a home away from home, a place where they can rest and interact with others who are facing similar situations,” Tom Arcara said. “I can safely say, on behalf of the entire “And the Beat Goes On” committee, which has worked tirelessly, this is thrilling for us to see our goal achieved so soon after we began.”
URMC currently has a relationship with a local hotel, the RIT Inn and Conference Center, which offers discounted rates to patients and families. Yet stays can sometimes last for months for patients awaiting a transplant or are recovering from a critical injury, and the costs add up quickly.
“Harbor House will help provide another option for patients and family members,” said Leway Chen, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation. “This allows us to further strengthen the support we give to the entire family unit, which is crucial as we care for our patients who come from across upstate New York and northern Pennsylvania.”
When the house opens later this summer, a small donation will be asked of Harbor House guests. In the future the hope is to provide housing at no cost.
A board of directors is being created for Harbor House of Rochester, which is a separate entity from URMC. Fundraising by volunteers, such as the “And the Beat Goes On” event, will continue in years to come in an effort to provide funding for operational expenses and further improvements to the property.
http://www.harborhouseofrochester.org and http://www.urmc.rochester.edu