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Special Travelers Fund

The Baystate Special Travelers Fund provides assistance, on a small scale, for family members/close friends who cannot afford to visit with a terminally-ill patient at Baystate Medical Center, Baystate Franklin Medical Center, or on service with the Baystate Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice. 

The fund pays for 100% of the most economical regularly scheduled round-trip air/train/bus fare to and from Springfield, Massachusetts. The fund may also provide for convenient lodging and round-trip ground transport from Bradley International Airport (BDL) in Windsor Locks, Connecticut or the Springfield bus, train station or funds for petroleum to/from our Baystate Health hospitals in western Massachusetts.

In order to apply you must be a family member or friend of a Baystate Medical Center, Baystate Franklin Medical Center or a patient on service with Baystate Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice with a terminal medical condition. Read a list of all requirements below.

How to Apply

Download the Application form

  • Fax  the form 413-794-4333 c/o Suzanne Hendery or 
  • email Keri.Nichols@baystatehealth.org. 
  • Please call (413) 794-7652 once you've faxed or emailed the application so that we are aware.

The patient's treating physician makes the final determination of whether a patient's medical condition qualifies him or her for a visit.

Fund Requirements

The applicants for funds from the Baystate Special Travelers Fund must be unable to afford the travel expenses to Springfield, Massachusetts and be:

  • Medically-fit for travel to Springfield, Massachusetts, USA and at least 6 years of age.
  • If traveling by air, and a U.S. citizen, have a valid U.S. Government issued identification with photograph; or a passport for travel and other required documentation for entry into the United States.
  • Visitors under 18 years of age must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
  • Requests are limited to one patient, one-time only, for one or two financially disadvantaged travelers, at a cap of $1500 total.
  • Be family members or friends of a Baystate Medical Center, Baystate Franklin Medical Center or Baystate Mary Lane Hospital in-patient or a patient on service with Baystate Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice with a terminal medical condition.
  • Depending on the nature of the request, those travelers benefiting should make some contribution (if possible) and not rely 100% on funds for their trip from the Fund.
  • At the end of the visit, 2 copies of a report describing the experience are required, as well as permission to use the report for promotional use of the Baystate Special Travelers Fund. Photographs of the travelers with the patient (with names identified) are also accepted.

    Privacy Statement: Baystate Health, the Baystate Health Foundation, AAA Pioneer Valley, the travel agencies and The Baystate Special Travelers Fund respects the privacy of the families it serves. We consider all patient information confidential and will not discuss the information with outside parties unless the patient and travelers have given consent.

FAQs

Are there any restrictions on a visit?

The patient’s nurses, social workers, chaplains and physicians play a major role in determining whether the patient’s condition will permit a visit to be coordinated safely and determine the most appropriate time to grant the visit, keeping in mind the patient’s treatment protocol or other concerns. The patient must approve the visit and the travelers. Each patient is limited to one visit by 1 or 2 family members/friends.

Who can receive funds?

The mission of The Baystate Special Travelers Fund is to provide assistance, on a small scale, for family members/close friends who cannot afford to visit with a terminally-ill patient of Baystate Health and to bring hope, strength and joy through reuniting friends and family. People over the age of 6 who would like to travel must meet the criteria below, and complete an application form, signed by the patient, which is forwarded to the fund administrator. The patient’s treating physician makes the final determination of whether a patient’s medical condition qualifies him or her for a visit.

Do you grant visits to children?

Yes. Pediatric patients of Baystate Children’s Hospital are eligible for a visit. However, travelers to Baystate must be at least six years of age, and accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Do the family/friends have to pay for the visit?

The Fund pays for 100% of the most economical regularly scheduled round-trip air/train/bus fare or other travel to Springfield, Massachusetts. Those requesting funds should be unable to afford the travel through other means. All other expenses including food, lodging, transportation to/from the hospital and spending money are assumed by the traveler/s.

What are the criteria for every traveler?

The traveler must be:

  • Unable to afford the travel expenses to Springfield, Massachusetts.
  • Have a valid passport for travel or other required documentation for entry into the United States if applicable
  • Medically-fit for travel to Springfield, Massachusetts, USA and at least 6 years of age. (Visitors under 18 years of age must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.)
  • Requests are limited to one patient, one-time only, for one or two financially disadvantaged travelers at a cap of $1500 total.
  • Be family members or friends of a Baystate Medical Center, Baystate Franklin Medical Center or Baystate Mary Lane Hospital in-patient or a patient on service with Baystate Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice with a terminal medical condition.
  • Depending on the nature of the request, those people benefiting should make some contribution (if possible) and not rely 100% on funds for their trip from the Fund.
  • At the conclusion of the visit, 2 copies of a one page report describing the experience are required, as well as permission to use the report for promotional use of the Baystate Special Travelers Fund. Photographs of the travelers with the patient (with names identified and permission granted) are also accepted.

Does the family member/friend have to meet income qualifications to receive a visit?

Although there are no income qualifications, the Fund was established for those with financial hardships, who find it difficult to finance travel through any other means.

Why was the fund established?

In 2002, a nurse at Baystate Medical Center, Angelita Rivera, helped to raise funds to reunite a terminally-ill 27-year old woman with her estranged mother from Puerto Rico. In raising funds for a special traveler, who was not able to afford the fare; Angelita fulfilled the last wish of her patient, which was to be forgiven and reunited with her family.

How is a visit granted?

Each visit is a unique experience for the patient and their family member/s or friend/s. However, there is a general process by which a traveler is referred, qualified and granted a visit.

Is my financial contribution tax deductible?

Yes. The Baystate Special Travelers Fund is administered through The Baystate Foundation, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. As such, financial contributions may be deductible for federal income tax purposes. Please consult with your financial advisor to determine the extent of tax deductibility. All gifts are acknowledged through The Baystate Foundation.

Does the family member/friend have to pay taxes on the value of the gift?

Generally, no. The value of the gift is NOT considered taxable income to the family member/friend of the patient. In accordance with the Internal Revenue Code Section 102, the value of property acquired by gift is excluded from gross income.

However, if the family member/friend is an employee of Baystate Health, the value of the gift may be taxable. Please consult with the Finance/Tax Dept. if the gift is given to an employee of Baystate Health. Recipients of the gift should consult with their tax advisor for individual circumstances.

Does a patient’s condition have to be terminal to qualify for a funded visit?

Yes. The patient’s treating physician makes the final determination of whether a patient’s medical condition qualifies him or her for a visit.

What are your sources of funding?

The Fund is supported by people and businesses who wish to help terminally ill patients reunite with a loved one, in honor of, or in memory of, their own friends and family members. The Fund may also rely on in-kind contributions to lessen the cost of travel and promotion. Friends of Baystate Health may wish to honor a loved one by making a tax-deductible contribution of any amount in memory of a friend or relative.


Support the Fund

This fund accepts memorial contributions in the names of loved ones or relatives, at all contribution levels. Funds are received via mail at Baystate Special Travelers Fund, c/o Baystate Health Foundation, 280 Chestnut Street, Springfield, MA 01199. 100% of the revenue received by this Fund goes directly to providing services to Special Travelers.

Friends of Baystate Health may also wish to honor a loved one by making a tax-deductible contribution of $3,000 or more in memory of a friend or relative. A contribution of $3,000 might host two friends/family members for a visit to a terminally-ill patient. The name of the loved one would then be added to that of Sharon Smith in whose memory this fund was established.

About the Fund

The fund was established in 2003 by Dr. John Spellman, and his daughter, Suzanne Hendery. The first donations honor Sharon Smith, a registered nurse and former vice president of patient care services at Baystate Medical Center who died on July 24, 2004. 

The mission of the fund is to bring hope, strength and joy to terminally-ill patients of Baystate Health by reuniting them with those they love. This fund will fulfill its mission thanks to those individuals, organizations and corporations that provide coordination of travel services, support and donations.