Victor Correa is an outgoing man with flaw in his vocabulary. He just can’t say, “No.” If a cancer patient needs transportation or housing, Victor finds a way to help, no matter the obstacles.
Correa, coordinator of housing, transportation and other services for patients, has been uttering “yes” since he began his career at the UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center in 1998.
“I never tell a patient we can’t help,” says Correa. “The word "no” doesn’t exist in our department. If I can’t help, I will find someone else who can."
Correa had a successful career in the information system department of a San Antonio business when a friend approached him about a job in Patient and Family Services division at the Cancer Center. His mother had passed away with lung cancer.
“This just seemed like something I can do to give back,” Correa says modestly. For the next 17 years, Correa has played a key role in providing transportation, housing and other services for patients.
As the Housing and Transportation coordinator, Correa oversees five drivers and a fleet of vehicles, primarily passenger vans. The service is provided free of charge to patients and caregivers Monday-through-Friday.
Patients are picked up at their residences two hours before their scheduled appointment at the Cancer Center. Once their treatments are done, their return trip to home is arranged.
“I always tell our drivers their main job is to assist the patient; to listen; to be sympathetic; to be there for the patient,” Correa explains. “We are more than just a driving service.”
The transportation service extends to patients who live inside Loop 1604, a major road that encircles most of San Antonio. A caregiver, relative or friend can accompany each patient on the van.
Although the services operates on weekdays, Correa will make special arrangements for patients who need to be at the Cancer Center on a weekend, especially those enrolled in the Cancer Center's Phase I Drug Program.
In addition to transportation, Correa will assist patients from out-of-town to find lodging at nearby hotels. He negotiates discounts with the hotels to make the accommodations more affordable for patients.
“If a hotel does not have a shuttle to get the patient to the Cancer Center, we will find a way to get someone to our facilities. We never leave anyone stranded,” Correa adds.
His effort to meet patient transportation’s needs has included arranging flights from Angel Flight, a not-for-profit with airplanes operated by trained pilots.
“I have coordinated with Angel Flight for travel arrangements for several patients,” he says. “They do a great job and they do not charge anything to the patients.”
Correa sees it as just another way to help ease the burden for a patient dealing with cancer. And he gets to say, “yes” which is music to the ears of patients.