Families dealing with the stress and heartache of a sick child will soon have a place to stay through WakeMed Health & Hospitals.
As part of an expanded partnership with WakeMed, the Ronald McDonald House of Durham will provide five bedrooms for the families of pediatric and neonatal intensive care patients on the hospital’s campus. The rooms will open Wednesday.
The new rooms are a way to ease the burden for families at the hospital, especially those who anticipate long stays or are arriving from far away, said Mark Piehl, medical director of the WakeMed Children’s Hospital.
Families will be able to stay close to their children without the trouble and cost of finding a hotel or traveling back and forth from their own homes. They will have access to sleeping rooms, meals and activities, all with the hope of providing the emotional support they need during a difficult time.
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“In order for them to care best for their children and make good decisions, it helps for them to be well-rested,” Piehl said.
Parents already can stay with their children at the children’s hospital in rooms that have beds and bathrooms to accommodate their needs. But it’s not always easy to rest in a room where machines are beeping or alarms are ringing, Piehl said.
He also hopes the new rooms will accommodate families in the neonatal intensive care unit, where parents aren’t able to room with their babies but want to be close by.
“They may be there for months at a time and really live at the hospital,” Piehl said.
The Ronald McDonald House of Durham has operated a family room at the WakeMed Children’s Hospital since it opened in 2010. The new rooms will be housed within the existing Heart Center Inn, on the third floor of the WakeMed Heart Center.
Piehl said the typical approach for a Ronald McDonald House is to build a new facility or take over a hotel. Housing the new rooms for families within the Heart Center allows WakeMed to make use of existing resources.
“Ideally if we continue to grow and engage in the necessary fundraising, we could build our own house,” he said.
In 2013, the WakeMed family room hosted nearly 10,000 visits from families. More broadly, 62,104 families have been served in the family rooms at Duke Children’s Hospital and WakeMed.