Chronicle Herald: A little kindness goes a long way

Carol Miller stands alone in the photo, smiling at the camera.

Originally published by the Chronicle Herald. 

Pictured: Carol Miller, a QEII clinical social worker in oncology and with the Kidney Transplant Program, is glad to have a fund that is accessible and responsive to the needs of patients she works with. (Submitted)


The QEII Patient Assistance Fund is often a life-line for those with nowhere else to turn for financial assistance during their healthcare journey

Established by the QEII Foundation in 2022, the assistance fund is 100 per cent donor-funded and helps patients pay for a broad range of amenities and services that can often become a financial burden during illness or injury. This includes rent, mortgage, lodging, home utilities, transportation to medical appointments, food, car insurance/repair, phone services, as well as medication, treatments and equipment not covered by a medical plan.

As a clinical social worker in oncology and with the Kidney Transplant Program at the QEII Health Sciences Centre, Carol Miller considers the fund a game-changer. She sees firsthand the significant financial need many patients face in both her roles. 

“The QEII Patient Assistance Fund has really changed how we are able to support folks because there is significant financial need among these two patient populations,” she says.

The fund has proved invaluable for kidney transplant patients requiring dental work prior to being placed on the transplant list. Wait times for dental care are often long and the costs significant, especially for those who don’t have private health coverage, or are unable to work because of their health situation.

Miller is thrilled to finally have a fund in place that is so broad, easy to access and responsive to urgent need.

“The QEII Foundation is so responsive too, that if something was really urgent, they have such an amazing turn-around time,” says Miller. “It has been incredible in that way because there aren’t a whole lot of other options.’’

As the provider of the fund, the QEII Foundation reviews applications submitted by QEII physicians and healthcare providers who apply for funding on behalf of their patients.

The financial burden of going through cancer care treatments or recovering from an organ transplant can be overwhelming for patients when they should be focusing on their health and well-being. For those who want to donate to something that directly impacts people, Miller says this is an amazing fund to support.

“Obviously, there are opportunities to donate in other ways, but this provides real practical assistance and support to folks who need it at a time when they need it the most,” she explains.

Alyson Currie is a QEII clinical social worker in oncology, who works with cancer patients throughout their diagnosis and treatment. She and other care providers have always wished for a fund or support program like the QEII Patient Assistance Fund and are grateful to the QEII Foundation for creating a fund open to anyone under the care of the QEII and faces financial hardship.

“People are often extremely relieved because there’s not a lot of community or government funding available that’s quick to access and can make such an impact,” she says.

The fund helped one of her cancer patients remain in her own home until a long-term plan could be put in place to pay her rent and helped bridge the gap for someone having a bone marrow transplant, paying for a portion of expensive medication.

Patients are always appreciative of the funding they receive considering it comes from complete strangers, and for one of Currie’s terminally-ill patients, the financial assistance not only helped him enjoy his final days, but he was also emotionally moved by their generosity.

“He was so touched that someone cared enough about another human being to donate to that fund without even knowing them or their situation,” she shares. “I’ve had the privilege of seeing the direct impact of the fund, which I assure you is huge.”

Currie says she and other clinicians sometimes feel helpless and even morally distressed when they see patients in need, but thanks to the QEII Patient Assistance Fund, they’re delighted to now have something to offer.

The QEII Foundation hopes to raise $37,500 for the fund during its annual spring fundraising appeal.