Thanks to the new Ronald McDonald Family Room, parents with ill or premature newborns in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Credit Valley Hospital (CVH) site of The Credit Valley Hospital and Trillium Health Centre have some much-needed respite from the hospital’s clinical environment. The Family Room – the first of its kind in the Greater Toronto Area and just the fifth in Canada – opened in February and is the result of a partnership between Credit Valley, Ronald McDonald House® Toronto and Ronald McDonald House Charities® Canada.
For Lenie Javier, being able to access the Family Room services just steps away from her daughter’s NICU isolette meant everything to her during a very stressful time in the life of her family. “It was a home away from home,” recalled Javier, whose daughter Alexa was born on November 21st weighing just 1 lb. 1 oz.
“The Family Room is just what NICU moms need,” added Javier, who was one of the first parents to use the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Credit Valley. The room provided Javier with a quiet escape from the sometimes-intimidating environment of the NICU.
The Family Room, which is adjacent to the NICU in the Erin Mills Regional Women’s and Children’s Health Centre at Credit Valley, is a soothing place of comfort, care and compassion. It offers a caring and supportive home-like atmosphere that allows families a moment of respite to relax and recharge. It is equipped with a kitchenette, a lounge area with a television, a fireplace and a supply of books and videos. In addition, there are four sleeping rooms and a shower facility.
“We are most excited to extend our support and services to local families of seriously ill children when they need it most,” says Jane Marco, Executive Director, Ronald McDonald House Toronto. “As a ‘home away from home’ within a hospital setting, the Ronald McDonald Family Room at CVH will help these families heal better together.”
The Family Room brings the comforting and supportive experience of Ronald McDonald House Toronto right into the hospital setting, serving families from out of town as well as those who live nearby. The Family Room at Credit Valley serves families from Mississauga and surrounding communities including West Toronto, Oakville, Burlington, Milton, Acton and Georgetown. This means that families with sick or premature infants in the NICU will be able to access the level of care they require closer to home.
“Our partnership with Ronald McDonald House Toronto is incredibly important to the patients and families we care for at Credit Valley,” says Dr. Ann Bayliss, Chief of Paediatrics at CVH. “It’s essential that we care for the entire family during the child’s illness, to provide them with a level of care and comfort during a very difficult time.” Dr. Bayliss notes that research suggests a family presence in the hospital helps children cope better and heal faster. “It’s important that parents get the rest they need, too. The NICU can be a daunting and intimidating place for parents, and the Family Room provides a haven for them to take a break and recharge.”
“Reducing the amount of travel that families have to make back and forth to the hospital helps lower stress, provides more time to rest, and a greater opportunity for parents to bond with their newborn,” said Alison Quigley, Director of the Women’s and Children’s program at CVH. “It’s the impact on our patients and their families that is most important. The comfort in knowing they can stay close to their sick child in the NICU, within their own community, makes all the difference.”
Ronald McDonald House Toronto is responsible for staffing, funding, furnishing and operating the Family Room at CVH. More than 40 volunteers contribute their time to running the Family Room, which is open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.