When Michael Gillespie was born two years ago with most of his organs outside his body and spent his first 299 days in the hospital, his parents Keri and Greg slept in chairs and cleaned up in hospital washrooms.
Neither wanted to leave his side, but eventually they had to sleep and shower.
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Beginning early next year, families in similar situations at Edward Hospital are likely to be much more comfortable thanks to a partnership that is bringing the first Ronald McDonald Family Room in Illinois to Naperville.
"We are setting a new standard with Ronald McDonald Charities that provides for an in-house facility family room that will provide much more intimate support," Edward President and CEO Pam Davis said Tuesday. "You can stay very close with your family and intermingle with other families whose children are going through similar situations."
The nearly 2,000-square-foot room will be a short walk from Edward's Newborn Intensive Care and Pediatric Intensive Care units and offer parents a place to rest and regroup at the hospital.
It will open in early 2012 and provide a large living room with relaxation areas, a kitchen and an educational resource area with Internet access. A playroom for patients and siblings, sleeping rooms and showers also will be available.
"During these most critical times, to have a place to regroup and deal with the emotional stress of having a sick child, would have been a blessing," Keri Gillespie said. "To have a place to go to take a 20-minute nap and regain strength would have been a blessing."
Construction and upkeep of the family room is part of a $1.5 million renovation of Edward's newborn and pediatric critical care areas and special procedure rooms being funded by the Edward Foundation's KidsCare Campaign.
The Newborn Intensive Care Unit will have 22 private rooms -- giving patients appropriate and comfortable space to keep vigil with their struggling newborn. All of the pediatric rooms also will be outfitted with high-tech equipment to allow them to function as intensive care units when needed.
Hospital officials said the renovations are necessary because demand for such services has outgrown the space available to them. To date, the campaign has raised $900,000 of the $1.5 million goal, mostly from a donation from the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana.