Wednesday, Jun 21, 2023

Transportation for Cancer Patients Made Easier by $20,000 American Cancer Society Grant Awarded to Ballad Health

To alleviate financial burdens during cancer treatment, the American Cancer Society (ACS) has awarded a $20,000 transportation grant to Ballad Health. The grant is one of 380 transportation grants totaling $6.2 million awarded to health systems nationwide.

The funding will allow health systems to provide eligible patients an estimated 577,350 rides to treatment over the next year.

“Too many people in our region might forego cancer treatment if they lack access to care – and that includes lacking reliable transportation to receive care,” said Tony Dotson, Ballad Health’s vice president of oncology services. “The transportation assistance program helps ensure life-saving treatment is available to anyone, by bringing help to them and bringing them right to our door for care.

“This ACS transportation grant will complement other Ballad Health patient-support programs, helping us continue closing this gap in access by defraying the expenses of traveling for care, so all patients can receive necessary treatments.”

The Need for Transportation Funding
Lack of transportation to treatment prevents many people living with cancer from getting high-quality care, which worsens cancer outcomes.

  • In a study presented at the 2022 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Quality Care Symposium, American Cancer Society researchers found that 2.8% of cancer survivors reported delays in care due to transportation barriers. Cancer survivors who delayed care due to lack of transportation were more likely to use the emergency room and had the highest risk of all-cause and cancer-specific mortality.
  • According to the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Treatment and Survivorship Facts & Figures 2022-2024, cancer survivors experience greater financial hardship than the general population for many reasons, including the inability to work while undergoing treatment. They also have higher out-of-pocket medical costs compared to people without a history of cancer. The economic burden of cancer is more profound in survivors who are younger or were diagnosed in childhood, underinsured or uninsured or have lower incomes.

“Not having access to high-quality cancer treatment due to where you live contributes to the disparities we see in cancer outcomes. It’s important to provide the funding and programming needed to keep a lack of transportation from impacting survival,” said Dr. Arif Kamal, chief patient officer for the American Cancer Society. “The local health systems we partner with across the country use this funding to deliver assistance directly to the patients who need it most.”

Patients with cancer who qualify can also enroll in the Appalachian Highlands Care Network, a Ballad Health initiative and partnership with Project Access, a network of regional providers to bridge care gaps, improve health and reduce avoidable hospitalization and emergency department visits. The program includes care coordination and care management to increase healthcare access for low-income uninsured individuals. The program provides access to primary and specialty care services, diagnostics and navigation to social assistance services – such as agencies that support lodging and food needs.

The American Cancer Society believes all people should have a fair and just opportunity to live a longer, healthier life free from cancer regardless of how much money they make, skin color, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability status or where they live. In addition to providing transportation funding to health systems, the American Cancer Society runs a Road To Recovery program that provides free rides to and from treatment.

To learn more about the American Cancer Society’s transportation grant awarded to Ballad Health, please contact Rebecca Jenkins, lead community navigator for Ballad Health Cancer Care, at or 423-783-6408.

More information about Ballad Health cancer care services, treatment options and locations is available at, and gifts to the Cancer Patient Assistance Fund can be made by visiting

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