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including seven hospitals, four urgent care centers, four ambulatory surgery centers,
and two freestanding emergency departments, with a third set to open in Bastrop this summer.

St. David's HealthCare has a long history of serving the residents of Central Texas
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Ronald McDonald House Charities Opens Family Room

5/21/2009 12:00:00 AM

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Austin and Central Texas (RMHC-ACT) will open a Ronald McDonald Family Room on Wednesday, May 13, at St. David’s Women’s Center of Texas.

After a year-long process, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Austin and Central Texas (RMHC-ACT) will expand its program through the opening of a Ronald McDonald Family Room on Wednesday, May 13, in Austin’s only women’s hospital—St. David’s Women’s Center of Texas, located on the St. David’s North Austin Medical Center campus. The Family Room is located near the hospital’s newly expanded Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and will serve families who cannot or do not want to leave the hospital while their child is being treated.

“This is an exciting partnership and expansion of the reach of the Ronald McDonald House program into the hospital where parents of medically fragile infants need a space to relax during their long days of caring for their babies ,” Kent Burress, Chief Executive Officer of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Austin and Central Texas, said. “Families will find support from our staff and volunteers, and a comfortable space all within feet of their children in the NICU.”

Families living closer than 35 miles that cannot use the Ronald McDonald House located in the Mueller Development, 12 miles south of St. David’s Women’s Center of Texas, will have access to the Family Room. Families with children in the hospital’s NICU often live in surrounding areas of Austin and are unable to make a quick trip back to their home. The Family Room can provide these families with a place to take a quick break without leaving the building.

The 264 square-foot Family Room includes a small kitchen, single-serving meals, a living area, television, desk, an internet-accessible computer and a fold-out bed. The Family Room could be expanded in the future at the hospital’s request to meet the growing needs of the population. The Family Room will be made available to families in the hospital with pediatric patients; however, NICU patient families will have first priority.

Currently, there are no other programs in the Austin area that provide this type of service for families. Families with children in the NICU often neglect care for themselves. The Family Room at St. David’s Women’s Center of Texas can provide these families with the means to rest and recoup without having to leave the hospital. Families can retreat to the Family Room and grab something to eat, check their e-mail, watch a movie or simply rest in the room’s home-like atmosphere.

“The Family Room will benefit the families of NICU patients by providing a comfortable and supportive respite within the walls of our hospital so that they can maintain close proximity to their hospitalized children without having to spend the entire time in a clinical environment,” Don Wilkerson, Chief Executive Officer of St. David’s North Austin Medical Center and St. David’s Women’s Center of Texas, said.

The St. David’s Women’s Center of Texas NICU specializes in critically ill and premature infants and has 24-hour, seven-days-a-week neonatology coverage with Neonatal Nurse Practitioners and Neonatologists on staff. All labor and delivery nursing staff have been specially trained and certified in both high- and low-risk obstetrical care, including fetal monitoring certification from the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses. Speech and physical therapists, as well as lactation services are available to ensure proper developmental care seven-days-a-week. Other pediatric services offered include a newborn nursery, emergency room and surgical services. The NICU recently expanded from 16 to 36 beds.

The Family Room will be directed by RMHC-ACT. A Family Room Oversight Committee was especially developed for this project. At least one RMHC-ACT staff person will be present at the hospital to oversee the Family Room at all times. The Family Room is open 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week. Volunteers will help with the day-to-day operations. RMHC-ACT is responsible for fundraising and in-kind donations to support the Family Room. An initial investment of $43,050 by the RMHC Chapter was made to start the Family Room and St. David’s HealthCare provided the space, design, plumbing, internet, electrical, cleaning, utilities and security in-kind.

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