Erin never thought it would happen to her family. Her one-year-old son was rushed to UNM Hospital and was diagnosed with an illness that would lead to many stays at the hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.
“My husband and I took shifts watching our son in the PICU,” Erin says. “Once we had talked with the doctors and grasped what our child would have to endure, the initial adrenaline rush turned into absolute exhaustion. Eventually we needed to escape the walls of our child’s room from time to time to try to feel some normalcy.” That’s when the Ronald McDonald Family Room, located just down the hall from the PICU, became the family’s refuge in its time of need.
“I was part of the Junior League fund-raising team that planned and designed the Family Room originally,” Erin says. “I just never thought that one day I would be using it. It was our “room” away from home. It’s designed like your favorite living room, with leather chairs and a full kitchen nearby. There are free snacks and beverages on the counter, as well as computers to use and laundry facilities.”
They met many families there just like them- looking tired and broken and needing a comfortable place to rest and visit with other families going through a difficult time. "Many families would have other children with them, siblings, "Erin says, "and they could enjoy a snack, play one of the many board games in the room, or read a book in a comfy chair."
Erin says she and her husband made it their job while at the hospital to be sure other families there knew about the Family Room. “We told every family we saw about the room. You could see their amazement when they saw it for the first time.” Erin’s family continues to support Ronald McDonald House and the Family Room through both financial contributions and volunteering so that other families will find the same comfort they did for years to come.