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$700 donated to cancer center

McLaren Central Michigan raised nearly $1,900 at this year’s annual hospital bake sale, held Dec. 11 and 12 in the main lobby of the hospital. Proceeds benefited the Lend a Hand Fund, which helps patients pay off their medical bills; the Helping Hand Fund, which assists McLaren Central Michigan employees in need; and the Patient Emergency Fund, which helps patients in emergency need.

The largest contribution was made to the Lend a Hand Fund, which McLaren Central Michigan uses every year during the holidays to help one or more patients, who have been paying regularly on their accounts, to pay their medical bills in full or in part. Those chosen then receive a surprise letter in the mail reflecting their new balance. This year, proceeds from the bake sale helped to fully clear nine different accounts and pay portions of two others.

Diagnostic Imaging employees Jennifer Koch and Kathy Bott have been the head organizers of the annual bake sale since its start in 2010.

“We occasionally get responses from the individuals who have their medical bills paid in full or in part thanking us for helping them,” Koch said. “Last year a woman told us she sat down and cried when she got the letter in the mail informing her that her bill was paid off. It was such a relief for her.”

About 18 percent of Isabella County’s population is uninsured, and 26.7 percent is at or below the Federal Poverty Guideline, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. For residents who fall in one or both of these groups, unexpected medical bills can be a serious burden.

Since its start in 2005, the Lend a Hand Fund has disbursed more than $17,000 to help 44 patients pay off or make payments on their medical bills.