Jack’s Place: A cancer caring house
EDWARDS – As an out-of-town patient was finishing his exhausting chemotherapy treatment for the day, a Shaw Cancer Center nurse asked him where he was going to stay for the night. The man replied that he figured he would sleep in his car. It was then that the vision for a cancer caring house was born.After four years and $4.5 million, the house – called Jack’s Place – is complete and will provide shelter to those undergoing treatment at neighboring Shaw Regional Cancer Center. More than half the patients at the cancer center come from outside Eagle County.
The opening of Jack’s Place is something volunteers on the project said is a true testament to the spirit of the community, and was a long time coming.”We live in such a generous community, but it’s still hard to imagine a little town like we are can do something so great,” said Dr. Jack Eck, for whom the caring house is named. “We’ve gone from having just one clinic when I came in 1971, to being able to do surgeries and treat most types of cancer. This is just one more example of how far we’ve come.”Cheryl Jensen from the Shaw Outreach Team echoed Eck’s sentiments and said when it was first made clear patients at the cancer center needed housing, the initial idea took a life of its own and became something, “More special than anyone could have thought.””At first we thought we were going to buy a condo across the street, but it became clear that we were really in need of more than just a few rooms,” Jensen said. “The more we discussed it, the more we also thought we needed a place that was more of a retreat than just a roof over their heads.”
Jack’s Place has 12 bedrooms, a common living room, a library, a yoga and massage room, a meditation room and a sunroom within 11,000 square-feet. It’s appointed with fine furniture and was designed to not look like a hospital.”There is no medical equipment in the house, and the volunteers who staff the house are not medically trained,” Jensen said.
Greg Repetti, CEO of Vail Valley Medical Center, said he was surprised by how warm and pleasing the house is. Repetti said the addition of Jack’s Place to the cancer center was long overdue, and is an asset to the local medical community.”They have done a magnificent job beyond what anybody expected, and it brings our ability to care for patients to a whole new level,” Repetti said. “It’s just wild that we have this now – a place we can treat people humanely and take the burden of driving off their minds, and I think it will encourage more people to come.”
Operating such a home does not come cheap. While patients are able to stay at Jack’s Place free, except for the price of food, they are encouraged to donate $25 to help defray the $105 per night cost it takes to operate the house. An additional $1 million earned during fundraising has already been set aside to run Jack’s Place.Patients will be given rooms on a first-come, first-served basis beginning Monday. About six to eight patients request housing at the cancer center every week. Vail Resorts has been providing discounted rooms and employee housing to patients. Community members who are interested can tour the house Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., or Saturday, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.”I was amazed when I saw how beautiful the house is,” said Glen Davis of Alpine Bank, one of the project’s biggest contributors. “We knew it was a good cause, but we didn’t expect it to be so beautiful and peaceful. It’s not at all what you’d expect.”
Staff writer Alison Miller can be reached at 748-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.