Kim and John Ragone of Manorville haven’t felt a sense of normalcy in their lives since their 17-year-old daughter Rachel was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare disease in which cancer cells are found in bone or in soft tissue. But with the opening of the new Ronald McDonald Family Room at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, they have found a place to relax during their daughter’s frequent hospitalizations.
“The room will be a blessing for my family,” Kim Ragone said during ribbon-cutting festivities on August 1. “This gives us a sense of normalcy, and something as simple as having this dining table to eat at will never be taken for granted…. The living space here gives parents a place to feel comfortable and still be there to support their child.”
Stony Brook Children’s partnered with the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island (RMH-LI) to develop the Family Room Program, a family-friendly respite area located on the 11th floor of the hospital. As Suffolk County’s only children’s hospital, Stony Brook Children’s serves a population of 1.5 million. The room will provide support for families of more than 7,000 children who are hospitalized each year at Stony Brook Children’s, helping to alleviate their anxiety of having a child in the hospital by keeping them close to their child’s bedside.
“We look forward to today’s events as just the first step in a long-term relationship with the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island, as we continue to grow Stony Brook Children’s into the finest children’s hospital on Long Island,” said Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD.
“This new facility represents the beginning of a tremendous partnership between the Ronald McDonald House and Stony Brook Children’s,” said Margaret M. McGovern, MD, PhD, Professor and Chair, Department of Pediatrics, Stony Brook School of Medicine, and Physician-in-Chief, Stony Brook Children’s. “By providing a calm, restful environment for families of our patients, the room will improve parents’ ability to advocate for their children. Research shows that a family’s presence helps children heal faster and cope better with the stress of being in the hospital.”
The Family Room offers a fully stocked kitchenette, a dining area, a lounge area with a flat-screen television, laptops with internet access, private showers and lockers, laundry facilities and a transportation program. A van will transport families to airports, doctors’ appointments and drug stores, and will run errands for the facility. It will be staffed with Ronald McDonald House of Long Island employees, as well as approximately 40 volunteers, from 9 am to 9 pm seven days a week, with services provided at no cost to families of children being cared for at the hospital.
“The Family Room at Stony Brook Children’s is an exciting and much-needed expansion of our services into Suffolk County,” said Matthew Campo, Executive Director of RMH-LI. “It will enable the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island to serve thousands of additional families, offering comfort and convenience for parents who often have to travel back and forth to the hospital to be with their child.”
The Ronald McDonald House welcomes volunteers to assist with the Family Room and operate the transportation program, as well as committee and advisory board members to recruit volunteers, build awareness, plan events, raise funds and engage in public advocacy. Charitable contributions and donations of supplies are welcome, including pantry items, cleaning supplies, kitchen supplies, bathroom supplies and gift cards. For more information, contact Jennifer Nicholson, Director of Special Projects, at (516) 775-5683, ext. 158, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Homepage photo: Kim Ragone of Manorville (center) holds the ribbon while Dr. Margaret McGovern, Physician-in-Chief for Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, does the honors during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Looking on (left to right) are: Dr. Kenneth Kaushansky, Dean, Stony Brook University School of Medicine; Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr., Stony Brook University President; NY State Legislator Kenneth P. LaValle; Matthew Campo, Executive Director of RMH-LI; Kate Hunt-Rotolo, Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chairman of the Family Room Committee for RMH-LI; and Dr. Reuven Pasternak, CEO, Stony Brook University Hospital.