Care Suites Ease Family’s Burden

When Lisa Blind arrived at Children’s Hospital this past July, with her two-year-old son, Kenneth, the furthest thought from her mind was where they would stay in the weeks following Kenneth’s bone marrow transplant. Following his diagnosis of neuroblastoma – a malignant tumor, usually characterized by abdominal swelling – Kenneth had previously undergone numerous chemotherapy treatments at Children’s Hospital and was now returning for transplant surgery.

It was a hospital social worker that would guide them to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio.  The House features six Continuing Care Suites, designed for children who have undergone organ transplants and bone marrow transplants. The suites allow them to remain close to Children’s Hospital, while keeping them isolated from other children and families staying at the House – a key issue for young patients with compromised immune systems, like Kenneth Blind.

“The continuing care suites have been a life saver,” says Lisa.  Following the bone marrow transplant surgery, Kenneth developed a bacterial infection, requiring him to stay close to medical care. Without the benefit of these isolated suites, Lisa and Kenneth would have returned to their home in Stockport, Ohio – a two hundred mile round trip drive from Children’s Hospital.

Structured as mini-apartments, the Continuing Care Suites are equipped with a laundry facility and a private kitchen, where families can do their own cooking.  The added privacy is a plus, as Lisa’s husband, Richard and the couple’s eight-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, visit on the weekends.

While the separation has been hard on the Blind family, Lisa notes that the staff at the House has been very supportive. And having a facility like the Ronald McDonald House, in close proximity to the hospital, has eased some of their burden.

“The Ronald McDonald House is an invaluable asset,” says Jack Clark, Senior V.P. of Ambulatory Services at Children’s Hospital.  “The House works closely with Children’s Hospital in meeting the needs of families,” says Clark, “and we’re very supportive of their efforts.

Families like the Blinds, have found the RMHC and Children’s Hospital to be two great assets, in a time of need. When Kenneth was first diagnosed in January 2005, he was listless; not walking or talking.  His chance of survival was a mere three percent. Today, he is alert; talking, walking and playing, just like a healthy baby boy.  The success of his transplant won’t be known for weeks to come, but thanks to top medical care and the Continuing Care Suites at the RMHC, Kenneth now has more than a fighting chance.

Article originally appeared in the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio newsletter.

Children’s Hospital is the fifth largest children’s hospital in the U.S. – serving 700,000 patients annually, from all 50 states and 22 foreign nations. As a nationally recognized hospital for organ transplants, Children’s Hospital offers heart and lung transplants, and more commonly, bone marrow transplants.