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Kindness on Wheels

By Jessie Knapp

Mr. Lionell Skinner began treatment at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Natchez in June 2019.  As a resident of Ferriday, Louisiana, he made a 20-minute commute to the Cancer Center to receive treatment. A problem arose once he scheduled his appointments – no one was available to bring him to and from treatment, and he had no other options. Because of this situation, Mr. Skinner depended on free transportation provided by Medicaid, which was not always available or convenient. The service typically brought him to the clinic early and picked him up two to three hours after treatment.

He would become frustrated and uncomfortable with his situation, as there were days where you could hear him in the waiting room calling the transportation company every 15 or 20 minutes asking where they were. This struggle was exhausting for him. It was heart wrenching for the staff to witness this on a daily basis, so we decided it was time to do something.

I began calling around to try and find alternatives for him. The one cab company in Natchez charges $80 per round trip, and there is no other public transit option in our area. Finally, a light bulb went on in my head, and I started looking to see what other patients we had coming from the Ferriday area. I found another patient who was brought to treatment by his friend. I approached the gentlemen to see if they would be willing to pick up Mr. Skinner if we could rearrange their appointments to be around the same time. I explained to him that we had just been awarded a new transportation grant from the American Cancer Society, and I would be able to give him a gas card in exchange for him bringing the two men to and from treatment every day. Out of the kindness of his heart, this wonderful volunteer agreed.

This has made a huge difference in Mr. Skinner’s life. When he found out that this service was going to be made possible, his face lit up, and he gave me the biggest hug. He no longer sits here and waits before or after his treatments. He comes in with a huge smile, always waves to me as he comes in and out, and claps his hands as he leaves ON TIME. We are fortunate to have been a recipient of the ACS grant, as it is truly help us advance our mission to improve survivorship and lessen the burden of cancer.

STRAIGHT TO THE POINT

Donations to Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Natchez helps fund patient needs, such as transportation services, to ensure our community is receiving the care they need. To donate, please visit marybird.org/give.

  • Lionell Skinner was waiting hours on his ride to get to and from his treatments at the Cancer Center in Natchez.
  • Office manager, Jessie Knapp, wanted to help and organized a carpool with other patients receiving treatment.
  • Skinner is no longer waiting hours for his treatments and Jessie is able to provide gas cards to the carpool to help with their transportation to and from the Cancer Center.

Jessie Knapp is from Natchez, Mississippi and graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a Bachelor Degree Business Administration. She loves her job as office manager and has been with Mary Bird Perkins since June of this year. She has worked in business development in the healthcare field for the past 15 years.