Ronald McDonald house charities opens family room at Health Sciences North

SUDBURY—Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Toronto is expanding the support it provides to families of seriously ill children in Northeastern Ontario.

On Monday, RMHC Toronto officially opened its Family Room at Health Sciences North (HSN), providing a “home away from home” for families just steps away from the NEO Kids paediatrics and neonatal intensive care units where their child is being treated.

The Family Room provides a welcoming and comforting environment where parents can rest and recharge away from the clinical environment of their child’s room. Research shows that parents who stay close to their ill children are able to be more involved in clinical decision making and care and have more positive hospital experiences.

RMHC Toronto supported 164 families from Northeastern Ontario at its House last year when their child required lifesaving treatment in Toronto. With the opening of the Family Room at HSN, RMHC Toronto can now support hundreds of additional families from Northeastern Ontario–while their child is hospitalized in Sudbury. HSN supported 1,200 patients and families last year in its NICU and paediatrics unit.

The Family Room includes a kitchenette stocked with snacks and beverages, a relaxing fireplace lounge with TVs, and two rest and respite areas, with a total of six recliners, where families can nap and sleep. Inspired by first-class airline lounges, the recliners have custom-built privacy screens to allow family members to rest without distraction.

The Family Room is staffed from 9 am to 9 pm, seven days a week, by RMHC Toronto volunteers, all from the Sudbury area. The recliners are available to families 24 hours a day.

“The Family Room at Health Sciences North is a core part of our mission to provide an environment that keeps families close so they can cope during a stressful and frightening time,” says Sally Ginter, chief executive officer, RMHC Toronto. “We are grateful for our partnership with this hospital, and grateful for the many people, including our volunteers and donors, who are enabling us to support more families than ever before in Northeastern Ontario.”

”This partnership with Ronald McDonald House Charities Toronto is improving care for our patients and families from across the North East,” says Dr. Denis Roy, president and CEO of Health Sciences North. “It is comforting to know that in their hour of need, families will be better supported while their children are receiving care at HSN. Families will have an area to rest and regenerate and remain close to their loved ones. Thanks to the team at Ronald McDonald House Charities Toronto, and to the many donors and volunteers for providing this quiet retreat for our families.”

Since the Family Rooms at HSN first opened on December 1, 2016, there already have been close to 1,600 visits by 88 different families.

“The Family Room is just what I needed,” says Susan St. Georges, one of the first people to use the room after her son Benjamin was born prematurely in December and spent time in the NICU. “I could relax and destress without leaving my son’s side.”

The Family Room at HSN is the seventh in-hospital Family Room opened and operated by RMHC Toronto, but it is the first one out of the Greater Toronto Area. RMHC Toronto also operates Family Rooms at Rouge Valley Centenary, The Hospital for Sick Children, Markham Stouffville Hospital and Credit Valley Hospital.