Melissa Burhans, The Heart of Third & Main

By Theresa Edwards Makrush

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Melissa Burhans adorns her office with greeting cards from her proton friends.

People from all walks of life find a home away from home at Third & Main, a short-term patient housing complex in Jacksonville’s historic Springfield community. Fully equipped with every modern convenience, the 35-unit complex is within two miles of the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, an easy commute to daily treatment. Residents are almost all proton therapy patients and quickly become neighbors who look out for each other, socialize together and often become lifelong friends after their six- to eight-week stay.

The reason Third & Main quickly feels like home, residents say, is because of the property manager Melissa Burhans. “She’s got a really dynamic personality. The way she treats people, she’s interested in their lives. She has a passion for helping people,” said Scott Drosos of The Villages, Fla., who stayed at the apartments while he was having proton therapy for prostate cancer.

In fact, helping people and creating a comfortable, welcoming place for them, Melissa says, is the best part of her job. “That’s the most important part of my job is the personal connections,” she said. “If it means coming in a little early or staying late to do paperwork I don’t mind. As long as I have time to sit and have morning coffee and pastries with people and get to know them and introduce them to other people who have the same interests, that’s what’s most important.”

If it feels to patients like Third & Main is part of the Institute, that’s intentional. Melissa said she takes her cue from watching Bradlee Robbert, patient services director at the Institute, and the way he interacts with people in the lobby and during the Wednesday patient luncheons at the Institute. “Even though we’re separate organizations, we partner with the Institute so that the experience meshes,” she said.

According to Judy Taylor Holland, community outreach coordinator at the Institute, Melissa has matched the experience successfully. “Melissa is far more than a property manager. Her devotion to our patients and their comfort is demonstrated in the many small and large deeds she takes on for our patients,” Judy said. “She has accompanied many who have needed a trip to the grocery store for supplies in helping to set up their new home. Melissa is known to offer extra activities for patients and their families like game nights, art walks and special dinners. Most recently, she cooked Thanksgiving dinner for 40 residents of Third & Main, knowing that they would be away from home, family and friends during the holiday. Christmas will be a repeat with her adding toys for the children collected through her efforts with the community and Toys for Tots.”

Judy went on to say, “Wednesday patient lunches always include a patient testimonial about the Third & Main experience. By the time these individuals leave our Institute, Melissa has found a place in their hearts that will last for a very long time.”

There are many patients who consider Melissa their friend and stay in touch with her, including Scott Drosos. He has invited Melissa and many of the other friends he made while at the Institute to attend his wedding next April. “I was single, going through cancer alone. If it wasn’t for Melissa I would never have gotten as involved as I did and met so many people and made so many friends. That’s what made the difference for me.”

About This Newsletter

The Precision Newsletter is an electronic-only publication that is distributed by email. Each issue is sent monthly to patients, alumni patients and friends of the University of Florida Health Proton Therapy Institute. As the official newsletter of the Institute, the content is compiled and prepared by our communications representative and approved by the editor Stuart Klein, executive director of UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. Special bulletin newsletters may occasionally be prepared when timely topics and new developments in proton therapy occur.  We will make every effort to remove your name from the list. If you would like to send a Letter to the Editor, please click here.

 

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