After Elizabeth Campbell’s breast cancer diagnosis in August, she got to know the Southwest Idaho landscape well. Every three weeks, Campbell and her husband made the trip back and forth from their home in Fairfield to chemotherapy appointments at St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute in Boise.
When snow season hit, the two-hour drive was no longer safe twice in a day. The couple opted instead to drive in early and spend the night before in a hotel. At more than $100 a night, Campbell knew it was a luxury they couldn’t sustain during the next stage of her treatment, daily radiation.
“It’s Monday through Friday,” said Campbell. “They’re shorter treatments, but every day. It just doesn’t make sense to drive back and forth every single day.”
Starting this week, Campbell’s commute to MSTI is no longer two-hours one way, it’s one block. The Campbells are the first guests to stay in the new St. Luke’s Heritage House. St. Luke’s purchased the old Idaho Heritage Bed and Breakfast on Idaho Street last year to offer more low-cost, on-campus lodging for patients.
“We know from seeing the amount of construction in downtown Boise that conventions and other businesses are choosing Boise as a destination in increasing numbers, however that growth has driven prices of hotel rooms up 10.5 percent from 2014 to 2015, average of $103 per night, a rate that is simply unaffordable for many especially those who are here for long periods of time,” explained Gabrielle Moore, St. Luke’s Patient Housing Manager.
For out-of-town MSTI chemotherapy and radiation patients, Moore says six weeks or more of treatment can add up to more than $4,000 in lodging costs. Instead, at Heritage House and the nearby Bishop Foote Guest House, rates are kept as low as possible thanks to generous donations from the community.
“Traveling to Boise for medical care can be an overwhelming, fearful experience, especially for those coming from rural communities. Offering them an affordable place to stay right on the hospital campus can be a huge emotional and financial relief,” said Moore.
The St. Luke’s Heritage House opened February 20, and offers seven, adult-only guest rooms, each with its own bathroom, a shared kitchen, laundry and common spaces for patients and caregivers to meet for coffee, share stories and offer support.
“It’s a beautiful place. Having to go through treatment long-term, at least this can ease the stress a bit, and is something to look forward to knowing we’ll have a nice place to relax,” said Campbell.
Guests also get a bit of history during their stay. Built in 1904 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the former Falk family home was also the home of Idaho Governor Chase Clark, his daughter Bethine Church, and her husband Senator Frank Church.
A report by St. Luke’s IT department determined the Boise hospital campus sees approximately 14,000 patients each year who travel more than 50 miles for treatment. Many of them visit their physicians multiple times a year.
“Many of our guests come back often over the years confident that they will be comfortable and safe in our home-like environment allowing us to build relationships and create memories,” said Moore.
The new St. Luke’s Heritage House is the second on-campus accommodations. The Bishop Foote Guest House opened in 1972. Since then, more than 125,000 patients and/or their caregivers have spent time there.
To help support St. Luke’s guest houses – and the patients and caregivers we serve – you can donate to the St. Luke’s Health Foundation specifically for Patient Housing.
Anita Kisseé is the Treasure Valley public relations manager for St. Luke’s Health System.