Skip to main content

All Access Subscription

Get unlimited access to our full publication and article library.

Get Access Now

Interested in Group Sales? Learn more

Hospital Report logo small


The premier resource for hospital professionals from Relias Media, the trusted source for healthcare information and continuing education.

Taking Care of Children Means Taking Care of their Parents Too

Joy Daughtery Dickinson is executive editor of the Hospital Group of publications at AHC Media in Atlanta and long-time editor and writer of Same-Day Surgery. She has won nine national awards from the Specialized Information Publishers Association and the Association of Business Information & Media Companies for her blogging, news writing, and editing. She makes her home in southwest Georgia.

My nephew’s wife went into labor in between two snow storms in North Carolina. They made it to the hospital, 30 minutes away. They came home, and both baby and mom were doing fine … until the infant developed respiratory syncytial virus.

The baby had to be transported to the hospital by ambulance in the wee hours of the morning. Mom and Dad drove there to be by his side. He’ll be in the hospital for several days while the staff makes sure he’ll be OK once he returns home.

Because this hospitalization was unexpected, it could have caused financial hardship for my nephew and his wife. However, the hospital where their son is staying has set them up in a room with the baby. It has a recliner plus a sofa that folds out to a bed. They get one meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus there are snacks available. They feel as though the hospital is taking care of not just their baby, but them also.

A couple of hospitals have taken that parental care to another level. Akron Children's Hospital and Akron Children’s Beeghly campus in Boardman, OH, have 24-hour respite centers where families can relax during their child’s hospital stay.

The Reinberger Family Center at Akron Children’s provides a place for family members to nap, shower, eat a snack, relax, or meet privately with their doctor or loved ones. It includes a big-screen TV, a kitchenette and vending machines, a library, game tables, computers, fireplace, and a children’s playroom. It even has private lactation rooms with snacks for mothers who are nursing. It’s the busiest area of the center. The center also gets a lot of use from families of children having outpatient visits. Parents often have to bring siblings along and need a place to keep them entertained.

For families who need to stay overnight, the Sterling Jewelers Family Area has five sleeping rooms with double beds and a sixth room with a single bed. Each room has a private bathroom. Any patient’s family can use them, but the priority goes to those families who have patients in the NICU and pediatric ICU and have traveled the longest distance. Social workers help decide which families have priorities. The rooms typically are available for one-night stays. A Ronald McDonald house is next to the hospital for families who need a longer stay. Families who simply want a space to nap or shower can use the rooms without a referral from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The center offers toiletries, donated by the community, and the also diapers, wipes, and other supplies. Since the center opened in 2008, it has provided rooms for about 12,000 overnight guests.

At Akron Children’s Beeghly campus in Boardman, OH, the McFamily Respite Center offers families a place to rest and regroup. The respite center has a lounge with oversized chairs and a big screen TV, a kitchenette, two sleeping rooms, and a lactation room. This respite center was funded through a grant from Ronald McDonald House Charities. When families visit hospitals that cater to their needs, as well as their child’s, that care is destined to show up in higher satisfaction scores. That’s a winning combination for the child, the parents, and the hospital. (To keep up with hospital-related breaking news as it happens, follow us on Twitter @HospitalReport.)