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Building a Home Away from Home
01/07/11

New On-Campus Ronald McDonald House Promotes Family-Centered Care

Involving families in their child's care is one of the cornerstones upon which Maria Fareri Children's Hospital at Westchester Medical Center was built. It's important to have them close by whenever possible. That's why Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital has partnered with Ronald McDonald House Charities to create a new home away from home for the families of critically ill or injured children under our care.

Construction on this facility is well underway just steps away from the Children's Hospital’s front doors. The new, two-story, 15,000-square-foot facility will primarily serve families with children in the Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit who live a significant distance from the hospital. Many of these children have life-threatening illnesses or traumas and require lengthy hospital stays.

Family-Centered Care
The Ronald McDonald House of the Greater Hudson Valley will boast 12 bedrooms with two queensized beds each, private bathrooms, and two separate kitchens where families can prepare snacks or meals. There will be a dining area with six sets of tables and chairs so families can eat together as they would at home, and a two-story, glasswalled sitting room.

"From the moment we opened our doors five years ago, Maria Fareri Children's Hospital has operated under the philosophy of family-centered care, which encourages the participation of parents and siblings in the treatment of each child," says Michael Gewitz, M.D., Physician-in-Chief at Maria Fareri Children's Hospital . "The new Ronald McDonald House of the Greater Hudson Valley will enhance our ability to practice that philosophy."

Parents will be able to take younger children to a play room equipped with toys, games, coloring books and other amusements, while older children and teens use the computers and video games in the game room. Two computer alcoves will allow parents to access the Internet to research their child's condition or catch up on emails and other routine business.

More Than a Place to Stay
Funding for the project is being provided by Westchester Medical Center and Ronald McDonald House Charities with interior design and furniture supplied by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., headquartered in Westchester County. The design, inspired by Starwood's Four Points by Sheraton brand, is intended to create a cozy, comfortable environment.

Once the building is open, Marielena DiMatteo, Executive Director of the new Ronald McDonald House of the Greater Hudson Valley, says she anticipates developing programs to support the families who stay there. These programs may include stress-reducing activities and tutoring for children. "We will develop programs as we go along based on the needs of our guests," she says.

For many parents, the benefits of staying in a Ronald Mc-Donald House go beyond the practical. They derive comfort from the camaraderie of other families in similar situations.

"You talk to each other and share your stories," says a father who stayed in a Ronald McDonald facility when his son was hospitalized for severe burns. "It is like a support group."

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