BREWER – The closure of non-essential businesses and social isolation mandates have left caregivers of cancer patients with limited options to wait out treatments.
On March 16, Northern Light announced it would restrict visitors to all of its facilities in the state to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including the Lafayette Family Cancer Institute in Brewer.
Several groups in the greater Bangor area have stepped in to help caregivers while cancer patients undergo treatment.
The Barbara Sosman Support Center has been an outpost for those traveling to Brewer for cancer treatment for more than ten years.
While unaffiliated with Lafayette Family Cancer Institute, the Sosman Center has provided support and comfort for the institute’s patients since 2009.
After Northern Light implemented a restriction on visitors to its facilities, the Sosman Center has moved to supporting caregivers and loved ones of cancer patients during treatment.
“You let your loved one off to go in for treatment, it may be three or four hours, and there’s nowhere to go, there’s no coffee shops open, wander around Wal-Mart maybe, so these poor people are sitting in their cars in the parking lot,” said Sosman Center founder Paul Trommer.
The Sosman Center is now welcoming in caregivers and family of cancer patients during treatments at the Lafayette Institute just down the street, readjusting their space to allow for social distancing.
“Without the caregiver the patient doesn’t make it. Anyone that has come through here has been doing handstands, they really have,” said Trommer.
Along with comforting spaces, coffee and other amenities, the Sosman Center is offering masks, gloves, other sanitary goods and a special sterilized space for cancer patients who still visit the center.
“We have the masks and all the necessary equipment so they don’t have to worry about coming in here and getting the virus or delivering the virus,” Trommer said.
Similar arrangements have been made at Sarah’s House in Holden, a home away from home for cancer patients traveling a long way to get treatments.
Staff at the facility implemented social distancing policies and the facility is preventing guests from hosting visitors.
“We’re a group of huggers, we like to hug our guests, so the social distancing is another challenge, we’re learning not to hug, so we’ll be ready for hugs when this is all over,” said Sarah’s House executive director Dolores Landry.
To support the Sosman Center while they operate under unique circumstances, visit their website.
Sarah’s House also accepts donations through its website.