RCCS: It’s More Than Just
May 13, 2022
As the undisputed leader in cancer care in the world, RCCS is a complex, multifaceted organization that offers a very broad and complex array of services. While families suffering from cancer have only marginal knowledge of all the time and expertise that goes into the invaluable assistance that they receive from this reputable origination, Rabbi Aron Steier, national director of development at RCCS, often notes that the standard person not affected by this terrible machlah is completely unaware of the tremendous needs being filled by RCCS as baruch Hashem, they have no need to.
This blessed lack of knowledge was the inspiration for the theme “It’s More Than Just…” for this year’s outreach campaign. To comprehensively cover all the myriad technical details and minutiae of RCCS’s operations would be beyond the scope of any article. Nevertheless, reading poignant stories and gaining some familiarity with the five major areas that the organization covers plus a sampling of the ever-expanding array of cancer-care services offered will provide readers with a glimpse of what RCCS does every single day on behalf of cholei Yisrael in Lakewood and across the globe.
It’s more than just MEDICAL REFERRALS AND SUPPORT
Recently, Rabbi Steier was on a flight to Eretz Yisrael for an event. Onboard, he met a yungerman with his 10-year-old son. The man struck up a conversation with him and asked where he was headed, to which Rabbi Steier responded that he and his coworker were traveling to Eretz Yisrael for an RCCS event. When the yungerman heard the word “RCCS,” he became visibly excited and shared the following story.
“I recently moved to Eretz Yisrael with my family. Our adjustment to our new home was going well…until the day my Shimmy was diagnosed with retinoblastoma (a form of eye cancer). The doctors we visited advised that Shimmy’s eye be removed immediately; it was a matter of pikuach nefesh in order to stop the cancer from spreading. Of course, our world came crashing down. The shock and utter terror we felt cannot be described in words.
“Completely at a loss, we called RCCS, which presented the case to Sloan Kettering in record time. Upon review of the results, the doctor at Sloan told RCCS, ‘I can save this child. Get him to me right away!’
“RCCS immediately got to work, and by the time my son and I arrived at Sloan, everything was in order—appointments with oncologists, translation of records, insurance payments, approvals, etc. The specialists prescribed a complex treatment plan that would require collaboration between Sloan and Cornell. Because RCCS had anticipated a complicated treatment plan, they made sure that the authorization for treatment was submitted immediately, thus allowing treatment to begin soon after.
“Every scan revealed that the cancer was shrinking baruch Hashem, and it eventually disappeared! My son and I returned home to Eretz Yisrael, and we are now on the way home again from a routine checkup, which once again confirmed that recovery is proceeding well, chasdei Hashem!”
Another incident: A young girl was diagnosed with a brain tumor and had surgery scheduled for the following week. The family contacted RCCS to get an opinion on the surgeon, whereupon RCCS asked to see the test results and blood work reports. After reviewing the reports, Rabbi Zishe Lowy, global director of patient services, was confident that it was a misdiagnosis. He surmised that the problem was actually a swollen pituitary gland, which could be treated with medication. The family was shocked.
RCCS sent the scans to two major brain surgeons, who both confirmed Zishe’s hunch; both agreed that surgery would be a terrible idea, since to operate on the brain would risk compromising the child’s quality of life. The patient is now being treated with medication.
It’s more than just INSURANCE PREMIUM GRANTS
RCCS is renowned for its insurance premium grant program. When patients are diagnosed with this bitter disease and are having difficulty paying for their current plan, RCCS will pay their premium at an average of $18,000 per year and often up to $30,000. These contributions are vital, since they allow the patients to see top specialists and doctors so that they can receive top-quality treatments without financial concerns.
Notably, RCCS handles all insurance premium payments without hassles or headaches for the family, all the while maintaining utmost confidentiality and preserving the patients’ dignity.
A parent reminisced: “Until this very day, the financial department that arranged payments for our insurance never saw my face or my son’s face! The most contact we had throughout the past two years was a few quick conversations to ensure that the policy was paid efficiently. Altogether, RCCS paid a whopping $40,000. If that’s not a testament to the greatness of Klal Yisrael, I don’t know what is!”
It’s more than just INSURANCE ADVOCACY
Even the most generous insurers often delay approvals and authorizations, overcharge patients, or decline coverage for visits, drugs and/or lifesaving procedures. RCCS serves as a savvy advocate that understands the fine print and is unrelenting in its advocacy. The organization regularly gets insurers to reverse denials and even obtains exceptions for things that are generally not covered!
Case in point: One of RCCS’s insurance advocates was reviewing a patient’s insurance bill and caught an enormous error. She found that the patients’ out-of-pocket obligation had already been met and was being billed now in error. This catch, like numerous similar others, saved thousands of dollars.
It’s more than just MEDICAL SUBSIDIES
Even with top-notch insurance, cancer patients incur substantial out-of-pocket medical costs, including deductibles, co-pays, co-insurance, and out-of-network consultation costs. RCCS offers patients $2,000–$4,000 in financial grants per year to cover these expenses.
The financial department at RCCS reviews policies to make sure that they align with their patients’ needs and that patients are getting the maximum benefits they are entitled to receive from their insurance companies. Recognizing the importance of using every tzedakah dollar correctly, when a patient submits a bill for a subsidy, RCCS begins with researching patient responsibility or advocating on their behalf, oftentimes negating the need to pay the subsidy. This diligence results in savings of millions of dollars.
It’s more than just CARE MANAGEMENT
RCCS ensures that each patient receives the maximum services RCCS can provide through its team of care managers. The care manager of each case creates a deep kesher with the family they are assigned to, thereby gaining an understanding of the particular needs of the patient and their family.
Klal Yisrael has a plethora of organizations, funds, and individuals who provide an array of services for cholei Yisrael. Through the intimate knowledge that the care manager has of any additional hardships the family might be facing, along with their encyclopedic knowledge of the array of resources, they can refer or liaise on the family’s behalf. They can act as a tremendous resource for all kinds of ancillary services that would greatly benefit an RCCS family beyond what RCCS provides. This can include medical equipment, sleeping arrangements, rides to appointments, meals, technology, and more. When patients reside in an area that lacks established chessed institutions, RCCS will reach out to the rabbanim and askanim in the vicinity to facilitate assistance.
Additionally, RCCS has access to grants that provide relief from mortgage, utility, and grocery bills and often covers vacations, rides, sheitels, home aides, and more. For example, at one point, RCCS became aware that although the organization was paying a certain family’s insurance premiums, they were struggling with day-to-day expenses. To compound the problem, the father had a hard time reaching out for help. RCCS arranged for outside grants to offset other expenses. This would not have been possible without RCCS’s intimate familiarity with the lives of the RCCS families.
On another occasion, a patient was undergoing chemotherapy while her daughter was engaged. Since the treatment regimen required administering chemo several times a week, which knocked her out for many hours, the mother wanted to skip chemo on the wedding day. RCCS felt strongly that skipping chemo was not recommended and reached out to a local organization to procure a comfortable recliner that the mother could use at the wedding so she could have her chemo and still be fully present on her daughter’s big day.
A crown for Klal Yisrael
“RCCS is currently servicing thousands of cholei Yisrael around the world, including 343 right here in our own Lakewood community,” notes Rabbi Chezky Gershbaum, RCCS Lakewood community outreach coordinator. “The Lakewood budget is currently $2.9 million, which is a $1 million increase from last year’s budget. The entire community’s participation is crucial.
“RCCS is confident that our illustrious kehillah will come through once again. The chessed that comes out of Lakewood is a true kiddush Hashem and a crown for Klal Yisrael worldwide. We look forward to concluding this campaign with resounding success b’ezras Hashem, so that we can continue to save the lives of hundreds of our neighbors.”
Let us all partake in this mission by partnering with this unique and worthy organization’s vital work!
To make a donation, look out for mailings or local events; call 732-217-7156; mail a check to 410 Monmouth Avenue, suite 305, Lakewood, NJ 08701; or visit just4RCCS.org. Tizku l’mitzvos, and may we all be blessed with good health!
This article was sponsored by J Talent, Inc. Klal Yisrael needs your talent! Contact info@JTalent.org.