Local Hotel Group Offers Lodging to Markey Cancer Center Patients During Pandemic

When the Hope Lodge had to close at the beginning of the pandemic, the UK Markey Cancer Foundation and Markey Cancer Center worked with Rainmaker Hospitality who donated more than 1,000 nights’ stays to cancer patients, caretakers and family members.

By Allison Perry March 30, 2021

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 30, 2021) – When Lexington’s Hope Lodge was forced to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a local hotel group partnered with UK HealthCare’s Markey Cancer Center to provide its patients with a place to stay during their treatment. Since April 2020, Rainmaker Hospitality has donated more than 1,000 nights’ stays to cancer patients, caretakers and family members.

The Hope Lodge, a hotel entirely funded by the American Cancer Society, is dedicated to providing patients and their caretakers with a place to rest after undergoing hours of strenuous treatment. The majority of their guests are UK Markey Cancer Center patients. Once it is safe to host fundraising events again, the Hope Lodge plans to reopen and to continue providing such critical resources.

“When I first heard the Hope Lodge was closing, I had a sheer moment of panic,” said Joan Scales, director of psych-oncology services at Markey. “They gave us two weeks’ notice and weren’t taking new appointments. I was like ‘What am I going to do?’”

“Our community needed us,” said Sunil Patel, president of Rainmaker Hospitality Group. “We just felt it was the right thing to do. We are in the hospitality business, that’s what we do: we take care of people.”

Rainmaker Hospitality’s Lexington properties are Courtyard by Marriott Lexington South/Hamburg Place, Homewood Suites Lexington/Hamburg, Hyatt Place Lexington, Comfort Inn & Suites Lexington, and Candlewood Suites Lexington. Rainmaker offered 10 complimentary rooms each night to cancer patients and their caregivers, as well as discounted rates to the families of patients. The partnership was initially meant to run from April to the summer of 2020; however, Rainmaker Hospitality extended its offer for as long as needed given the ongoing nature of the pandemic.

When patient demand for lodging exceeded 10 rooms per night, Rainmaker Hospitality generously offered vouchers for additional rooms at discounted rates. Markey patients benefited greatly when the UK Markey Cancer Foundation purchased more than 300 of these vouchers to provide peace of mind for even more patients and families in need.

“The past year has presented a number of challenges for us all, but at UK HealthCare, our main focus is and has always been on providing Kentuckians with the level of complex health care they cannot get anywhere else in the state,” said Dr. Mark F. Newman, UK executive vice president for health affairs. “Rainmaker Hospitality’s generous donation has made it possible for many of our cancer patients to continue to come to Lexington throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for the high level of care they need.”

“As the state’s only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center, caring for patients across Kentucky is our primary mission,” said Dr. Mark Evers, director of the UK Markey Cancer Center. “Many of our patients drive from hours away to receive life-saving treatment at our facilities, which can be a tremendous burden for them. We’re grateful to Rainmaker Hospitality for stepping up in our patients’ time of need.”

Kathy Caldwell, a mother of two from Middlesboro, Kentucky, is one of many patients grateful for the program. Caldwell is part of a clinical trial for her cancer treatment, which requires her to be in Lexington five days out of the week.

“[Having a hotel room] was such a burden lifted throughout the cancer diagnosis and treatment,” she said. “It was just such a blessing to have that resource, to where I didn’t have to worry about a place to stay.”