THE Affleck family of Otatara know only too well the valuable service provided by the Ronald McDonald House Family Room at Southland Hospital.
Parents Kate and Richard Affleck stayed in the Family Room for nine days in 2015 and Mrs Affleck stayed for 20 days again last year following the premature births of her two sons – Max, born five weeks early, and Ted, born seven weeks early, who were treated in the neonatal unit for various issues including breathing difficulties and jaundice.
“It was a really stressful time, more so with Max because, being new to parenthood, it was such a shock,” Mrs Affleck said.
Being able to stay at the Family Room meant she was on hand when her sons needed to be fed every two to three hours, rather than having to travel in from Otatara numerous times during the day and night, she said.
When Ted was in the neonatal unit, the Family Room was also a place where Max could come and spend time with her, she said.
“It was good to be able to have family time without having to leave the hospital so I could be there when Ted needed me.”
The Family Room also provided a place where parents of sick children could go to have a break away from the stress of the hospital, and where they could talk to other parents going through similar experiences, she said.
“It was nice to hear from other parents that you do get to go home. At the time [being in the hospital] feels like an eternity.”
The Afflecks were among 53 families who stayed in the Family Room at Southland Hospital last year. Of those, 74% were Southland families, with the balance made up of families from Queenstown/Lakes District, Wellington, Otago, Marlborough and overseas.
To ensure the Family Room remained open to support families like the Afflecks, Ronald McDonald House South Island is encouraging people to support its Host a Roast fundraiser.
The event involves hosting a dinner party for friends and family during July and asking guests to donate $20 towards the fundraiser.
Ronald McDonald House South Island chief executive Mandy Kennedy said every cent raised by Host a Roast in Southland would stay in the region.
“We are an organisation with our roots firmly grounded in Southland, which is why it is so important that the funds raised go directly to supporting local families staying at the Ronald McDonald Family Room, Southland Hospital,” she said.
“Funds raised by Host a Roast will ensure the Family Room’s doors will remain open to each and every family who needs to stay there.”
Southland Family Room supervisor Helen Walker said Host a Roast was a fun way for the community to support the facility.
“It is all about keeping families close. All proceeds will be used to ensure that families can be together during their child’s stay in hospital.”