GREAT FALLS - A hospital is renovating its RV park housing that’s hosting patients traveling from outside of the Electric City.

Benefis Health System's Gift of Life Housing includes an RV park and hotel-like rooms for out of town patients and their families, so they don't have to commute back and forth.

It's saving patients and their families' money. If someone stayed in a hotel for a whole week in Great Falls, it could cost them at least $630.

Meet Ana and Don Pegar. Ana was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, and during that time they stayed in the Gift of Life Housing since they're from Big Sandy and have a 100-mile commute into Great Falls.

"Out of the blue, we find out, oh, the Gift of Life. That was a blessing to have this for us because we come out and not have to worry about driving home especially in the winter when some of my treatments were in winter," said Don & Ana Pegar, previous residents at the Gift of Life.

Thankfully, Ana is now cancer-free. However, it’s the couples' second time using this housing. This time it's because Don had foot surgery after getting run over by a cow breaking and dislocating his ankle. After the surgery, he ended up getting a staff infection forcing the couple to stay longer than expected.  

Thanks to donors and previous patients, Benefis says this housing is free for patients. However, there's currently a waiting list.

Ana and Don got to go home yesterday, July 17th to Big Sandy.


Gift of Life Ann Thornton Memorial RV Park renovations

Benefis Health System's RV park is getting some renovations done, according to Benefis. 

It’s one section of their Gift of Life Housing which is hosting out of town patients and their families so they don't have to commute.

The Ann Thornton Memorial RV Park renovations include sewer, electrical, and water upgrades.

Instead of having to pay to stay at campgrounds around town, Benefis says they're providing free RV parking and other housing options for patients.

"Can you imagine coming out to Montana on a vacation and having a heart attack may be up in the Bob Marshall, and your family needs to fly out from New York or Boston to be with you. We get notes on a weekly basis from people, I don't know what we would have done," said Marilyn Parker, the Chief Operating Officer of the Benefis Health System Foundation.

This RV park makes more room for other people to stay in Benefis's other Gift of Life Housing accommodations. Benefis says it's pretty rare to find similar patient housing concepts like this across the United States.

So far, Benefis says the Gift of Life Housing has provided more than 7,000 night stays for 3,000 people. The final renovation completion date is unknown.

For more info on Gift of Life Housing and its options click this link.

Benefis says the Gift of Life Housing has been around for about 27 years. A lot of people in Great Falls may not be aware of this housing, but Benefis says if you walk into a coffee shop in a town like Havre, chances are people know about it.

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