In the biblical parable of the Good Samaritan, the hero cares for an injured man, takes him to an inn and pays an innkeeper for his stay until he heals.
Toni Moore sees herself as the metaphorical innkeeper and the city of Tulsa as the Good Samaritan. She is the founder of the Hospitality House of Tulsa, a nonprofit that provides lodging, meals and snacks, prayer and other assistance for people traveling to Tulsa for medical care.
After seeing a profound need in her 15-plus years in hospital administration, Moore found that annually 25,000 people travel 50-800 miles to receive medical care at one of Tulsa’s 14 hospital facilities. For some, lodging alone can create a financial crisis. Families with an inpatient in any Tulsa-area hospital or outpatients undergoing treatment can stay with their caregiver at HHT.
Influenced by her own family members’ medical crises as a teenager and later as a newlywed, Moore left her career in health care administration in 2003 to start Hospitality House.
The organization’s first "inn" was an eight-unit apartment complex purchased by Hillcrest HealthCare System and offered to HHT through a $1-per-year lease. Since then, HHT has expanded to an additional apartment unit and has a partnership with the Doubletree at Warren Place. Combined, these efforts meet the needs of approximately 1,000 families annually.
With 42 Oklahoma rural hospitals at risk of closing or paring down their services to emergency rooms and outpatient centers only, Moore says other metro communities are preparing to receive thousands more rural patients and families.
Under the umbrella of HHT’s parent company, Philos Hospitality Inc., she and the board of trustees are preparing for future expansions to other communities after the need in Tulsa has been met. Moore says the expansion will require "the heroic intervention of lots of volunteers and generous funders," but it’s important work.
"The concept of American hospitality is entertaining, but the biblical concept is showing brotherly love toward strangers," she says.