Hosts for HospitalsSolving The Problem of Lack of Patient Family Lodging
We strive to provide every family in need of lodging when coming from out-of-town to a city for medical care the option of staying at a locally administered volunteer host-home or group facility suitable to meeting that patient-family’s specific lodging needs.
Host-homes programs may be created as:
- Part of a hospital, enabling more patients from further distances to come there to receive medical care;
- Part of any local Ronald McDonald or other hospitality house to increase the number of patient-families for whom that facility may provide lodging; or,
- A collective activity for members of community groups or places of worship as an easy way for people to give back.
We welcome discussing with you the best way to set up your own host-home program given the dynamics of your community.
Our Founding History
One evening in 1988, Michael Aichenbaum returned home from work utterly and totally fatigued. He stared for a long time at his two sons, 2-1/2 year-old David and 8 month old Josh. In resignation and defeat, Michael finally mumbled to his wife Ruth: “The older one is David… I can’t remember the other one’s name.” The next day Michael was diagnosed with an advanced case of leukemia – he was 33 years old.
Doctors told the Aichenbaums that two courses of chemotherapy could be given to Michael–if this treatment did not bring the disease into remission, there would be nothing else which could be done for him. The first course of chemotherapy failed. It was then decided to transfer Michael from a hospital in Michigan to Sloan-Kettering Memorial Hospital in Manhattan.
Ruth along with Michael’s mother Lil went with Michael to provide support. By necessity the two boys were with them as well. Lodging was found at an apartment across the street from the hospital. The cost: over $3,000 a month.
Michael was a patient at Sloan-Ketttering from New Year’s Day through mid-June. The second course of chemotherapy brought the disease into remission, and thereafter Michael successfully received a bone-marrow transplant, his brother being his donor. Throughout this period his family lived in the apartment across from the hospital, at an eventual cost totaling over $20,000.
After Michael’s recovery the Aichenbaums moved to Philadelphia. Almost a decade later Michael learned about the Boston based Hospitality Program, a nonprofit organization which since 1983 has been providing zero or low-cost lodging for hospital families through a network of volunteer-host homes.
About this same time Michael met Nancy Wimmer, who herself in 1988 had traveled out-of-state to undergo a bone-marrow transplant as treatment for Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Nancy’s family had to bear a numbing expense for lodging as well. Years later when Michael told Nancy that he was thinking of establishing a volunteer-host home hospitality program to service hospitals in the greater Philadelphia area, she urged him to do so.
Together, in March 2000 they established Hosts for Hospitals.
Staff and Board
Executive Director, Board Member
Mike Aichenbaum has a multi-faceted educational and employment background. Prior to 1989 when Mike received a bone marrow transplant as treatment for Leukemia, he had received a law degree from the University of Michigan, lived in Israel and served as President of Colonial Lamplighters, an outdoor yard lighting firm located in Detroit, Michigan; subsequent to his recovery he has been a buyer at Boscov’s Department Stores in Reading, Pennsylvania, received Masters degrees in Jewish Education and Jewish Studies from Gratz College in Philadelphia, PA and served as Educational Director of Congregation Or Shalom in Berwyn, Pennsylvania. He has directed HfH since its founding in 2000.
Patient-Family Placement Specialist
Whitley is a native of Tampa, Florida, and moved to the Philadelphia area five years ago. She joined Hosts for Hospitals in September of 2015 and is excited to be working for an organization that is making such a difference in the Philadelphia community. In 2009, Elise received her Masters in School Counseling from the University of South Florida. She resides in Ardmore with her husband, an Episcopal minister, and two young children.
Cathy was born and raised in Philadelphia and currently resides in West Mount Airy with her husband and 3 daughters. Working for years in the apparel industry, Cathy has an undergraduate degree in Fashion Merchandising and a Masters in International Business from Philadelphia University. She is a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Chestnut Hill where she co-chaired the outreach committee for 5 years. This gave her the opportunity to work with Hosts for Hospitals as well as many other local non-profit organizations. Cathy organized the annual events such as “Stop Hunger Now’, the Advent Fair, and the Holiday Giving Tree. She is passionate about the annual rummage sale at St. Paul’s which generates over $40,000 then distributed to aid hunger and homelessness locally. Cathy and her family have been hosting for HFH for 10 years and intermittently also host international students for local colleges. “Hosting families in need made every day a teaching moment in our home. Our children witnessed how people all over the world become unified when faced with challenging medical situations. They realize what a difference everyone can make showing kindness and hospitality to others we don’t’ even know.”
Board Member, Treasurer
Jim brings more than 40 years of banking experience to Hosts for Hospitals, with a concentration in Commercial Banking and Wealth Management. Jim started with Girard Bank, remained there for 15 years, then joined the Philadelphia National Bank in 1988 where he helped develop the middle market commercial lending department and later became the Senior Credit Officer for the CoreStates Asset Management Company. After 18 years, he moved to the Wilmington Trust Company where he headed the Private Banking group in Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey. Jim’s last position before he retired in March 2015 was the Executive Vice Present and Chief Lending Officer for Beneficial Bank, the oldest and largest bank headquartered in Philadelphia. He grew up in Maine and settled in Philadelphia 41 years ago, the vast majority spent on the lower Main Line. Jim is an active volunteer for Hosts for Hospitals and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
Girish Patwardhan is a Financial Services Representative with First Financial Group, a General Agency of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). Prior to joining MassMutual, Girish worked in pharmaceutical marketing research arena for 25 years. During this time he worked at Strategic Marketing Corp & IMS America. In 2005, he cofounded a boutique market research firm Data Quest Analytics, LLC. In 2010, he started his own company Idea360 Market Research, LLC.
Girish graduated from University of Pittsburgh with a Ph.D. in Statistics. He has taught statistical courses at The Penn State University at Altoona, Immaculata University, St. Joseph University, and Drexel University. He serves on boards of Hosts for Hospitals and Hope Charities, Inc.
Board Member, President
Jim Remsen is an author-editor and one of Hosts for Hospitals’ original hosts. He spent his career as an award-winning journalist at the Philadelphia Inquirer and, since retirement, has been writing local history books.
Leanne Cimato RN, BSN serves as the Family Services manager at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She has over 25 years of experience working with children, youth and families as a nurse leader in the organization. She currently collaborates with an array of departments in the organization to assess family needs during a child’s hospitalization and collaborates with resources in the community to help coordinate supportive systems to address these needs.
Primary Healthcare Facilities Served
We accept guests associated with patients receiving treatment at any medical facility within the area of Greater Philadelphia, including as far south as Wilmington, Delaware and as far north as Princeton, New Jersey.
Bryn Mawr Hospital
Cancer Treatment Centers of America
Canine Partners for Life
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Children’s Seashore House
Fox Chase Cancer Center
Hahnemann University Hospital
Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
Lankenau Hospital – Magee Rehab
Princeton Medical Center
Temple Medical Center
Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
Wills Eye Hospital
We offer guidance in the following areas to help you create your own host-home program:
Host Recruitment, Training and Support
Patient-families’ physical and emotional needs vary greatly. We’ll share best practices for creating a host-home network that offers free lodging to meet any individual patient-family’s particular needs. We’ll help you involve your community in recruiting many types of host-homes and host-families. You’ll learn successful techniques to recruit, train and support host-families in ways that will maximize both the host and guest experience.
Patient-Family Referrals and Ongoing Hospital Relations
A host-homes program functions best when it works in collaboration with hospital medical departments to involve a minimum of hospital staff time. Referring patient-families to free lodging services involves two simple steps. First, each patient-family is asked, “Does anyone in your family now or in the future need help with a place to stay during the time of medical care?” Secondly, hospital staff have the host-homes program staff contact the patient-family to explain the host-home lodging option. We’ll explain the ways in which this process may be easily established at your hospital as well.
Guest Placement and Lodging
Matching host and patient families involves having a primary concern for the safety and security of both hosts and guests alike. Drawing upon experience gained over the last ten years, having provided lodging to over 1,600 patient-families, we’ll explore all aspects of guest placement. This includes guest eligibility requirements in general, rules for when patients may be guests, factors to take note of in developing the guest profile, procedures pertaining to the actual stay of a guest-family at a host-home, and much more.
Other Areas for Which We Offer Consultation for Your Host-Home Program
All aspects of obtaining nonprofit status; options for organizational structure; creation and management of board of directors; budgeting and financing; marketing including creating an identity package; lodging needs assessment; record keeping; and more.