Ronald McDonald Family Room a “Comforting” Place

Ronald McDonald Family Room a “comforting” place.
Naperville Sun HealthAware column:

Mom of preemie finds comfort in McDonald Family Room
June 25, 2012

Expecting your first child can be stressful in the best circumstances, but when you face a dangerous complication of pregnancy, such as preeclampsia, that stress can go off the chart. Preeclampsia is marked by high blood pressure, excess protein in the urine and persistent swelling, especially in the legs and face.

Tiffany Hnat of Plainfield suffered from this condition, which led to her baby Charlotte’s premature delivery at 33 weeks on April 24. Tiffany and her husband, Mark, then began the wait for their 3-pound, 5-ounce daughter to graduate from the Edward Hospital Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU). There the doctors, nurses and therapists helped support her growth and development.

“When you’ve been through a high-risk pregnancy, it’s easy to continue feeling that the worst can happen,” Tiffany says.

Fortunately, the Ronald McDonald Family Room, which opened at Edward in March, offers an oasis for anxious parents of NICU and pediatric patients. This roughly 2,000-square-foot “room” includes a relaxation area, TV and Internet access, a kitchenette, two sleep rooms, showers and a playroom for siblings and patients.

The Family Room was created through a partnership between the Edward Foundation and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana. Several Ronald McDonald Houses in the Chicago area are already in operation through this group, allowing parents to stay close to their kids who are being treated at nearby hospitals. The Family Room at Edward is another form of these refuges, the first in Illinois to be in a hospital.

“It’s an absolute joy to have this service to offer families,” says nurse Marge Curran, manager of the NICU. “With the focus so much on the patient, other kids in the family can feel left out, so siblings of NICU and pediatric patients enjoy the Family Room as well. Now parents can spend time with them in a comfortable environment that has fun activities for the kids.

“We’ve had 450 family members make use of the Family Room since it opened,” says Katie Allabough, director of the Family Room. “It gives parents a break from the medical environment of pediatrics or the NICU. And our volunteers who serve as hosts have been great in making sure the families have what they need.”

“I was welcomed with open arms by Katie, the volunteers and the other parents,” Hnat says. “It was comforting to know there was some place to go for a breather or a snack where I could still get back to the baby in almost no time.”

She also was able to keep up Charlotte’s 3, 6 and 9 a.m. feeding schedule when she used the sleep rooms.

“I can’t say enough nice things about Ronald McDonald House Charities and Edward,” she says.

On May 18, Charlotte was eating well on her own, gaining weight and fitting safely in her car seat. The Hnats were able to bring their little girl home.

Learn more about the Family Room by calling 630-527-3800.

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