Sometimes we do not need to look very far to find some of our strongest advocates for the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and UPMC CancerCenter. Such is the case for the Ladies Hospital Aid Society (LHAS) in Pittsburgh. Founded by a handful of women in 1898, LHAS members were instrumental in the founding of Montefiore Hospital. With the integration of Montefiore into the UPMC family of hospitals over the decades, LHAS has maintained a laser-like focus on improving the patient experience.
We at UPCI and UPMC CancerCenter have been grateful beneficiaries of LHAS generosity. The Hillman Cancer Center houses the LHAS Early Detection and Prevention Suite to accommodate activities related to cancer control and prevention. LHAS has made possible the LHAS Positive Image Salon in the Hillman Cancer Center to help patients adjust to cancer therapy-related changes in physical appearance like hair loss. Over the years, LHAS has also supported important areas of research including ovarian and pancreatic cancer, among others.
Over the last month, we have been touched again by the generosity of LHAS to our cancer patients. The 2014 LHAS Gala raised funds to support the LHAS Orchid Fund, a patient assistance fund for non-surgical hair replacement for any medical reason including chemotherapy or radiotherapy-related hair loss. Given the cause it was fitting that the Honorary Chair and Doctor of Distinction for the 2014 LHAS Gala was our own UPMC CancerCenter Chairman, Stanley Marks, M.D., and the LHAS Innovator was Lanie Francis, M.D., who is pioneering our efforts in integrative oncology.
Even more importantly, as part of their mission to improve the patient experience, LHAS has agreed to provide oversight and administration for the UPMC CancerCenter Patient Assistance Fund and the sister fund for blood cancer patients. These funds, supported by philanthropy, provide extra help for out-of-pocket expenses including travel and lodging, parking and food, incurred by patients undergoing cancer therapy who have demonstrated financial needs.
Last month, we had the opportunity to welcome LHAS Board members led by President Carole Kamin and Executive Director Diane Troutman for a tour of the Mario Lemieux Center for Blood Cancers and host a reception to thank them in person for all their hard work on behalf of our patients. All of us in Pittsburgh are so grateful for the energy and passion of LHAS for more than 116 years. UPCI and UPMC CancerCenter are truly a better place for patients in need because of the dedication of generations of LHAS members. As a newer member of LHAS, I am proud to be a part of such a wonderful tradition!