A three-story brick home, located at the corner of Reed Street and Harrison Avenue, may appear to those passing by to be an attractive home that merely escaped being razed for newer construction. But the Davis House is much more than that, especially to those fighting against cancer.
The Davis House, on the campus of Davis Memorial Hospital, offers a convenient and comfortable option for those traveling to the Cancer Care Center. The house, which has six suites on its first and second floor, offers a home away from home for those traveling at least 50 miles one way for their cancer treatments. Each suite is offered for patients and their caregivers free of charge. Each suite has a bed and private bath along with a shared kitchen and sitting area.
William and Shirley Thorne, who live in Barbour County near the Upshur County line, say they are grateful for the Davis House.
William and Shirley Thorne were some of the first folks to utilize the facilities of the Davis House in Elkins when it opened last fall. They are joined by Davis Health System Foundation Administrative Assistant Jennie Raines.
"It is lovely to have this place for patients," Shirley Thorne said. "Our condition was weather, plus I was undergoing chemotherapy and my husband was taking radiation. So neither of us felt like traveling back and forth each day. Weather permitting, we would go home on the weekends and come back the following week for treatments."
Shirley Thorne said there were a number of days they would not have been able to travel to Elkins for treatments because of inclement weather.
"The weather was so bad when we were taking treatments," she said. "One day it was so cold, we could not have even gotten our car de-iced to travel. We would have missed our treatments due to the weather."
She also said that taking her chemotherapy treatments made her ill.
"I would be okay the day of the treatment, but the next day I would be very sick," Shirley Thorne said. "The medicine made my joints hurt and made me feel ill. I mostly stayed in bed for a few days to a week after. By the time I was feeling okay, it was time for another chemo treatment."
"It is such a blessing to have the Davis House," Shirley Thorne said. "I had surgery in Pittsburgh, and when my family stayed at a place there, it was very expensive. But to have something here in this little town, it's almost like a dream. When I first read about this coming about, I thought that was wonderful, but I wondered how long it would take for it to be complete. It didn't seem like it took any time - the people all came together and gave. The workers were so dedicated and we were just so thankful for this home away from home."
Shirley Thorne said when she stayed at the Davis House, she could park her car and go straight into the floor where they were staying.
"I would not have been able to climb stairs after taking my treatments and it was so convenient," she said. "The suite was set up for handicap accessible, so the shower was nice, and I could sit down and take my shower. Everything was very convenient and nice.
"Staying at the Davis House saved us a lot in gas," Shirley Thorne said. "But the main thing it saved us was ware and tear on our bodies. It was also comforting to know we didn't have to drive back and forth each day and worry about the weather, or whether we would have an accident being on the road so much. He had to be here for his treatments so early in the morning. My treatments lasted sometimes seven or eight hours."
Shirley Thorne said she really enjoyed the visits from a local volunteer.
"Judy would come by each evening to see if we needed anything," she said. "She was so sweet. She would sit down and visit with us. I worried about her as well because she would go out in the bad weather. She had been sick as well. Her visits meant a lot to me."
The idea for a place such as the Davis House came from conversations in the winter of 2011. Cancer Care Center employees were concerned for the patients traveling long distances to take chemotherapy and radiation treatments each day. Some of the concerns identified include the cost of traveling to and from Elkins each day for weeks or months to get life-saving treatment for cancer. Also identified were the cost of staying in hotels and eating in restaurants for weeks at a time, which could cost hundreds or thousands of dollars during the course of routine or extensive cancer treatment. Patients who are sick and exhausted from treatments having to travel over mountains, through snowy weather or on country roads for more than an hour is not conducive to recovery.
Encouraged by the concerns of the staff and physicians at the Cancer Care Center, members of the community and staff of the Cancer Care Center the Davis Health System Foundation committed to renovating a property as a hospitality house for those seeking cancer treatment. Their goal was $500,000 to renovate the first level of the house.
Thanks to the generosity of community members, employees, medical staff, area businesses and other supporters, the Davis House was dedicated in September 2012. The day of the dedication, more than $700,000 in donations were surpassed.
"The Davis House is a wonderful tribute to the many people who worked tirelessly to make it happen, and it will be of great comfort to people being treated at the Cancer Care Center," said Dan Bucher, Davis Health System Foundation Special Projects Coordinator. "We are so grateful to the many generous people who not only made the Davis House possible, but who made it happen so quickly."
Bucher said the Davis House is being used and is full nearly each night, showing how important the facility was needed.
"People really came together to make this happen very quickly," Bucher said. "To have a project this large and this important come together in just over a year is incredibly impressive."
Additional information about the Davis House is available online at www.davishealthsystem.org or by calling 304-630-3043.