Located in Northeast Florida

How a Few Gift Cards Turned into an Innovative Patient Care Program

October 13, 2022

Andrea Laliberte launched the Oncology Support Services Fund

A normal day going to chemotherapy turned life-changing for Andrea Laliberte. In 2020, Laliberte was undergoing treatment for breast cancer. It was a second-hand story from an Ascension St. Vincent’s oncology nurse that inspired her to take on a new challenge in life.

This nurse told Laliberte about one of her former patients, an older gentleman, who had been going through extensive chemo treatments. One of his appointments was scheduled on his birthday. On that day, she said he arrived at the hospital’s chemotherapy center with 20 $50 gift cards. He handed the cards to the nurse and asked her to give them to patients who needed help.

Laliberte thought to herself: what can $50 do?

The nurse explained to Laliberte that often she hears patients waiting to go in for chemotherapy ask about smaller monetary items, such as validated parking. To some patients, that $3 ticket adds up. Laliberte realized those gift cards would go a long way for someone living paycheck to paycheck while fighting a deadly disease.

That small conversation led to a big idea, and Laliberte reached out to the hospital’s CFO to learn what she could do to help patients—even in a small way.

Laliberte ended up assisting on a much bigger front – donating $50,000, with $10,000 earmarked for the Foundation’s mobile mammography unit, and $40,000 dedicated to developing a new Oncology Support Services fund to help oncology patients pay non-medical bills so they could fully focus on healing. Then in 2022, she donated another $400,000 that allowed us to formally launch the Oncology Support Services Program. She hopes the  Oncology Support Services Program will inspire others and continue to grow years down the road.

Recent research shows that about 20% of cancer patients end up with medical debt that gets referred to collection agencies. Almost 10% of patients file for bankruptcy.

“I wanted to help develop this idea into something long-term,” Laliberte said. “I wanted to provide seed funding to create a program that would be ongoing – a program that others will want to give to.”

This new fund will help cancer patients with everyday costs that may get neglected while they undergo treatment. These costs range from rent to childcare to transportation.

Cancer care can be financially toxic, and Laliberte hopes her philanthropy will end the vicious cycle for patients struggling to make ends meet. Just as the story about the gift card inspired her, she hopes her gift will inspire others to give what they can.

For more information about the Oncology Support Services Program at Ascension St. Vincent’s, please visit our community outreach page, or to make a direct donation to the Oncology Support Services Fund, please do so here.

Andrea Laliberte while in treatment for breast cancer in 2020.