On the Road Again

Dedicated Patient Travels Long Distance for Jeff Docs

For most people, a doctor’s appointment means a fairly short trip to the office. For Catherine “Kay” Hometchko, it means a three-and-a-half hour bus ride—each way.

The 74-year-old retired teacher resides in Trucksville, Pennsylvania—about 135 miles northwest of Philadelphia—but is adamant about having her medical needs met at Jefferson by Jefferson doctors because “no one else will do!”

For Kay, arranging her checkups and procedures is like planning a vacation. She books her round-trip transportation, reserves an overnight stay at a nearby hotel that gives Jefferson patients a discount, packs a bag, and then follows an itinerary of appointments coordinated by her doctors’ offices.

“The doctors are the best at what they do, and everyone treats me so well here. Why would I go anywhere else?” Kay asks.

Kay’s love for Jefferson began in 1999 when she fell at work and injured her hip. A local doctor dismissed her suffering, saying, “women always exaggerate pain.” Hearing great things about the Rothman Institute, she thought she’d give it a try. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

After the Rothman orthopaedists got her back on her feet, she began “collecting doctors” at Jefferson. Each and every time she required the services of a physician, she hopped on a bus to Philly. From her gastroenterologist and orthopaedist to her cardiologist and oncologist, Kay insists there are no better physicians in the world. She has nicknamed them her “Dynamic Docs.”

Although she has been coming to Jefferson for almost two decades, Kay says the care she is most grateful for is that which was given to her daughter, Rosemary—“Rose”—who was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2008.

When Rose was first diagnosed, Kay begged her to go to Jefferson, but Rose chose a hospital and doctor close to home. At the end of her course of treatment, doctors told Rose she was in remission. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Her cancer was not in remission—in fact, it had spread. She was 38 years old and terminally ill.

“She was in so much pain. We knew she didn’t have much time left,” Kay remembers. “She was in the hospital and asked to go to Jefferson, but the hospital refused to transfer her.”

That was in May 2009, and Kay had an appointment for her own care with Norman Rosenblum, MD, PhD, surgical director of the Gynecologic Oncology Program at Jefferson.

“I got on the bus and cried all the way to Philadelphia. When I told Dr. Rosenblum about Rose he said, ‘Don’t go home… and don’t worry… we’re bringing her here.’” He arranged for an immediate transport to get Rose to Jefferson.

“By the time I got to her room, she was already resting and out of pain,” Kay says. Rose was even able to enjoy a few short outings in Philadelphia before entering a hospice facility near her home. Rose died June 17, 2009.

“Even though she passed, the care Rose got at Jefferson from the doctors, the nurses, and every member of the staff gave me such comfort,” Kay says. “They doted on her—every one of them.  She was finally pain-free the last weeks of her life.”

Over the years, Kay has been diagnosed with both breast and ovarian cancer—and has been successfully treated at Jefferson. She has also needed various other treatments and surgeries, including upcoming hand surgery, which will be performed at Jefferson’s Methodist Hospital, “of course.”

“I can’t imagine getting this kind of care anywhere else,” she says. “Everyone is always asking what they can do for you, how they can help you.”

Now, Kay has made arrangements to help Jefferson. She and her husband, Peter, have made a planned gift to Jefferson to support its mission of improving lives through excellent clinical care, research, and education.

“After all they did for my daughter I knew I wanted to give back to them,” Kay says. “I don’t have any close relatives—Jefferson is the closest I have to family. I want my money to go to a place that will use it to help someone else—someone just like my Rose.”

Photos of Kay and her daughter