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April 03, 2014 06:15 PM

Apartments For Cancer Patients

Sioux Falls, SD

We all know how difficult driving can be during the winter months in South Dakota. It can be especially difficult for those traveling for chemotherapy treatments.

Sanford Health is trying to help cancer patients who live a long ways from Sioux Falls by providing apartments at a low cost.

Jim and Brigitte Lueken enjoy cooking and relaxing in one of these apartments as if it was their own house but instead they're 160 miles away from home. Jim is undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments in Sioux Falls for lung cancer. At points the medication has made him sick.

"They've put me in the hospital a couple times already, so they slowed down the chemo treatments," Jim said.

To help him get through treatment, Sanford is allowing the Luekens to stay in the apartment for $20 a night, rather than having to make the 320 mile round trip on a regular basis.

"I don't know what we'd do. We've been up here for almost two months," Jim said.

The apartments are located right next to Sanford's main campus. To qualify for the apartments, you must live at least 30 miles from Sioux Falls.

"Many of these patients are getting treatment every day for a period of weeks, so driving back and forth can be a real burden," Sanford Cancer Nurse Navigator Jenn Schmidt said.

Right now, there are eight apartments for cancer patients.

"Sometimes there's a waiting list depending on how many patients are needing lodging," Schmidt said.

The $20 a night rent and donations to the Sanford Health Foundation help pay for the service. The Luekens say that's made a big difference in a difficult time in their lives.

“It's really something, a good idea they came up with," Jim said.

Sanford hopes to provide more apartments to patients as funding becomes available.

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