Having a child in the hospital can be terrifying for any parent or caregiver. Learn how the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Renown Children’s Hospital is giving parents a comforting space to find calm and strength during crisis.
At first, Anica and Jeremiah Relaford thought their son, Jakob, had a common cold or sinus infection. Then overnight, he couldn’t speak. He spent more than two months at the Renown Children’s Hospital where he was eventually diagnosed and treated for Guillian Barre Syndrome, which was causing young Jakob’s immune system to attack his peripheral nervous system.
“We were grasping at straws for so long,” Anica says. “We didn’t sleep for the first week and we didn’t know for a long time what the diagnosis was.”
“It was a sanctuary,” Anica says. “That is the only way to describe it. You walk in here and it was a different world. It didn’t alleviate the stress, but you could deal with it because you could come in here.”
Jeremiah adds, “Whether it was that we would come in here and celebrate something that went right, or come in here and cry because something wasn’t going right, it was a place to experience all of that and just be open and exposed and emotional. And then you put your face back on and go back to your son and continue to fight.“
The Ronald McDonald Charities operates the room in partnership with Renown Health. The room looks and feels a little like a family room in a small home, complete with a television and electric fireplace. It has a kitchen stocked with nutritious snacks and beverages, including fresh coffee each morning. There is also a small sleeping room, a staff member or volunteer is usually there to lend an ear and help if needed.
“We do very simple things that have a huge outcome,” says Vic Hopner, Ronald McDonald Charities northern Nevada resources manager. “The most important thing we do is to make that initial connection to ask, ‘Hey, how are you doing?’ and the rest happens magically after that.”
Learn more about the Ronald McDonald House Charities Northern Nevada at https://www.rmhc-reno.org.