Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Update - Transplant Housing

Two transplant suites in high demand

Transplant patients, caregivers and University of Alberta Hospital transplant social workers started calling about the GoodHearts apartments soon after the 2009 transplant housing fund-raising dinner.

Since the door was opened to our first furnished apartment — Kaelyn’s Place — in July 2011, GoodHearts has received more than 60 phone calls and e-mails. Some inquiries came from as far as Nova Scotia. The bulk of the calls were made after we moved to the Galen Lofts and opened the second apartment.

The furnished one-bedroom suites are located across the street from the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute.

Fourteen transplant patients and their caregivers have stayed at our apartments so far. The average stay is three months. Each suite is empty only as long as it takes to get it ready for the next transplant patient.

The application process to stay at the GoodHearts suites is simple and starts with a phone call — 780.916.5026 or e-mail — to GoodHearts.

No reservations are taken, but the GoodHearts volunteer records the call or e-mail. And when a suite becomes available the patient or caregiver who made the initial inquiry is called back.

The volunteer also stays in touch with the transplant social workers, because they know who is in need of temporary housing.

Patients pay $900 a month, that’s less than 50 per cent of the actual rental cost for each suite. GoodHearts subsidizes the balance. A damage deposit of $450 is required. The rent is pro-rated so anyone staying fewer than 30 days in a month is charged a daily rate of $30.

To date, the damage deposit has been returned in full to each tenant.

The single-bedroom suites include a queen-size bed, a pull-out sofa, television, internet, dishes, pots, pans, and bedding.

Parking is not included in the rent, but Galen Lofts residents can check with the leasing office for underground stalls at the Windsor Park Plaza.

Each suite also contains a folding walker, a shower seat, raised toilet seat, digital weigh scale, and bathtub hand grip. Transplant patients may require these items, and past tenants suggested they be provided.

After consulting with U of A Hospital transplant physiotherapists, co-ordinators, and occupational therapists, we contacted Homecare Surgical, and the company provided the items either free or at cost.

When booking the furnished suites, the GoodHearts volunteer looking after the apartments meets with the prospective tenant. He or she is informed about the rent payment, damage deposit, the check-in and check-out process, and how the Galen Lofts leasing office fits into the transplant housing process.

The move to the Galen Lofts has many benefits for patients as well as GoodHearts:
  • Patients can walk across the street to attend the clinics or physiotherapy sessions;
  • Caregivers can walk rather than drive from the apartment to the hospital;
  • Parking costs for daily hospital visit have been eliminated;
  • Patients no longer have to fill out the GoodHearts application and legal forms;
  • The Westcorp leasing office handles all the legal paperwork for renting the suites;
  • The leasing staff handles the walkthrough for checks-ins and checks-outs;
  • Tenants call the leasing office in case of non-medical emergencies;
  • Galen Lofts staff checks the apartments for cleanliness before a new tenant moves in.

To view more photos of the furnished suites view our Transplant Housing at Galen Lofts photo album on our Facebook page.

To have the transplant housing project function well and keep costs as low as possible, GoodHearts needs volunteers — preferably organ recipients.

The volunteer is required to handle the rental inquiries, maintains contact with the transplant social workers, the Westcorp leasing office, and most important, meet and stay in touch with the tenants staying in the suites. If you are interested in volunteering please contact us.

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