Sunday, August 26, 2001

Small Ky. city has big heart

2,200 videos go to clinic to ease patients' days

The Associated Press

        CLEVELAND — Cancer patient Jonathan Ferguson went on a mission and returned to Cleveland Clinic Hospital with a present from Kentucky.

        Now patients at the hospital's Taussig Cancer Center have something to occupy their attention other than medical treatments.

        They have about 2,200 videos that Mr. Ferguson's friends, neighbors and others in Ashland, Ky., donated because Mr. Ferguson asked. The video drive started with one e-mail message. In the Ohio River town of 23,000, word spread quickly.

        Soon schools were holding contests to see who could collect the most movies. Boxes of videos showed up.

        In March, Mr. Ferguson, 37, went to Cleveland from his home in Ashland to get treatment for an aggressive blood cancer called acute lymphocytic leukemia. Each treatment takes hours, and it is boring.

        Mr. Ferguson wanted to pop a movie into a VCR. But a nurse told him that the cancer center had no entertainment videos, and that patients who wanted to watch a video had to bring one.

        “We need to do something about that,” Mr. Ferguson told his wife, Dr. Cheryl Cook, a pediatrician. The result was unpacked last week.

        “People we knew wanted to do it for him,” Dr. Cook said. “They were very touched.”

        Among the videos, “there's a little something for everybody,” Mr. Ferguson said.

        And because there are so many tapes, said Janice Smith, education coordinator for the cancer center, other clinic divisions, including the Children's Hospital, will share the bounty.

        Disney movies, Dr. Seuss classics and Muppets videos went into the children's collection.

        In the meantime, Mr. Ferguson's treatment continues. He is slowly recovering from a bone marrow transplant last month and faces other procedures over the next three months.


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