From left: Gina Morales, Judy Chatigny, Tamara Vasquez, Kristi Negrette

Loma Linda University Cancer Center team members hold up the gas cards they will be distributing to help support eligible patients in accessing critical cancer care.

Loma Linda University Cancer Center received a $5,000 grant from the American Cancer Society (ACS) to provide eligible patients with gas cards. The funds will help sustain patients’ access to transportation for treatment and essential wellness services at the Cancer Center.

"This grant enables us to assist in easing the burden of cancer's financial impact on patients and their families," said Judy Chatigny, MSN, Cancer Center assistant vice president. “The gas cards ease the stress on our patients of getting to their appointments.”

Transportation insecurity in healthcare contexts occurs when patients cannot regularly participate in their healthcare safely and on time due to the lack of material, economic, or social resources. National surveys have found that transportation insecurity affects hundreds of thousands of cancer survivors, forcing them to miss, delay, or change their necessary cancer care.

Gina Morales, LCSW, a social worker at the Cancer Center, distributes the gas cards to eligible patients facing transportation barriers, including: financial stresses that preclude paying for gas, parking, or lodging near cancer centers, inadequate social and family support, lack of access to personal transportation, public transportation infrastructure that is not suitable for patients with cancer, and inability to access ride services.

“Timeliness in cancer care is paramount,” she said. “Transportation insecurity can potentially result in care delays and disease progression. These funds have been so beneficial for patients as a tangible resource available to them, offering a little bit of relief.”

Moreover, Morales said the Cancer Center serves patients throughout the Inland Empire (made up of Riverside and San Bernardino counties), where rural and impoverished communities are especially susceptible to transportation insecurity. The Cancer Center has applied for the ACS grant and received a total of $50,000 since 2018 to increase access to care by removing the barrier of transportation.

"The financial burden of cancer treatment directly contributes to disparities in cancer outcomes," said Karen Alvarez of the American Cancer Society. "We're working to increase access and remove barriers to timely, high-quality cancer care. Providing these grants directly to local health systems and partners allows us to deliver assistance directly to patients when and where it's needed most." 

Learn more about Cancer Center services online or call 1-800-782-2623.