Employee Spotlight: Heather Spotts and Michele Loree

Treatment is only effective if it is accessible to patients — and sometimes it is only tolerable when buttressed through compassionate and empathetic support.


Heather Spotts and Michele Loree help provide both that access and support for cancer patients as oncology social workers with the Karmanos Cancer Institute at McLaren Greater Lansing.


“We support patients and families through the emotional, financial and social aspects of the cancer experience and help address any barriers to care,” Loree said.


It is no secret that lack of access to medical care results in poor health outcomes, diminished ability to follow a patient’s condition and lost opportunity for patient education. According to a report from the National Center for Mobility Management, there are numerous reasons cited for missed or delayed medical appointments, including the inability to take time off work, an absence of child care resources and a lack of health insurance. Yet, the study found transportation-related challenges are one of the most-often mentioned obstacles to care.


The McLaren Greater Lansing Foundation works to alleviate such barriers through its cancer transportation fund with Karmanos, helping employees such as Spotts and Loree deliver high-quality, all-encompassing care to oncology patients by allowing social workers to secure safe and affordable transportation.


“The McLaren Foundation has been vital in supporting oncology patients through transportation resources, as well as complementary therapies like tai chi, drumming, massage therapy and survivorship day,” Loree said. “Many patients would have been unable to complete treatment without transportation support from the foundation.”


Residents donate $25 to the McLaren Greater Lansing Foundation to be used specifically for the cancer transportation fund. The foundation then turns those donations into gas cards that social workers like Loree and Spotts distribute to cancer patients at Karmanos who need assistance to get to treatments.


The partnership between McLaren Greater Lansing and Karmanos elevates the level of care as well as the availability and access to care for residents in the region in many ways. It not only allows patients to have access to a larger support team encompassing nurse navigators, financial navigators and social workers, but it also — and perhaps more importantly — empowers Spotts and Loree to do what they do best: build relationships with patients and family members to help them navigate their cancer experience.


Loree said the best part of the work is seeing the resilience of patients and families and having the honor of walking with them on their journey to recovery and a better quality of life.


Give your support to the cancer transportation fund or any other patient support services at McLaren Greater Lansing by calling the McLaren Greater Lansing Foundation at (517) 975-7100 or visiting mclarenloveslansing.org.


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