Jeanne Sager | Democrat
THE CATSKILL REGIONAL Medical Center blood bank has made a donation to the Oncology Medication Fund each year. Celebrating this year’s presentation were, front row, from left, Chief of Oncology Dr. I.A. Shahad Chouhdry, Laboratory Medical Director Dr. Joseph Napolitano and Associate Director of Pathology Dr. Wing Chau. Back row, Administrative Director of the Lab Mona Makofsky, Medical Lab Tech Bill Kenney, Blood Bank Supervisor Roe Steuber and Quality Assurance head Patti Andersen.
CRMC fund to help purchase cancer medicines for patients
By Jeanne Sager
HARRIS Sometimes the only thing standing between a cancer patient and their medicine is money.
The powerful drugs used to tackle malignancies are expensive. And they’re not always covered by insurance.
Fortunately for patients of the oncology department at Catskill Regional Medical Center, help is just a donor away.
The oncology fund and an oncology medication fund set up to provide a little extra help for patients who are uninsured or underinsured depend on donations from the public to keep them going.
A $1,200 check handed to the hospital’s chief of oncology, Dr. I.A. Shahad Chouhdry, this week will go directly toward pharmaceutical help for the patients.
The monies are the result of the annual Dracula’s Pub raffle held by the hospital’s blood bank. A project that began the Halloween season immediately following the Sept. 11 attacks, the blood bank has kept it going year after year with 50 to 60 product and gift certificate donations from local businesses to raffle off.
The money always goes right upstairs, to oncology, the place where a large part of the blood collected by the bank gets sent to help the patients.
Donations to the oncology fund as a whole are used to help patients with a variety of needs, Chouhdry explained. It might fund their travel to chemotherapy appointments or help them access a second medical opinion.
Donations strictly to the medication fund are directed to the pharmacy to pay off people’s bills if they are truly in need.
The day Chouhdry accepted the check from the blood bank, he’d made a call down to the pharmacy for a woman who told him she had no way to pay for the medication change he was recommending.
As a physician, he was making the choice to prescribe a new medicine to aid in her care. But her insurance company was having none of it.
Other patients have no insurance to begin with, Chouhdry said, or they have high deductibles that need to be met before an insurance company will start kicking in.
The costs of the cancer drugs are some of the highest of any pharmaceuticals, putting that much more of a strain on people whose lives have already been turned upside down.
“We still give them the service, whether they can afford it or not,” Choudhry said.
To help the fund, send a check made out to the Catskill Regional Medical Center Oncology Fund to P.O. Box 800, 68 Harris Bushville Road, Harris, NY 12742-0800.