Personal experience prompts donation to Ronald McDonald Family Hall

It was first-hand experience that sparked the construction of a Ronald McDonald Family Room at Marotta Family Hospital in St. Catharines.

Three members of the Niagara Health Medical Laboratory team know first-hand the relief and respite Ronald McDonald House provides to parents of sick children in hospital. That’s why they rallied their colleagues to support the upcoming Ronald McDonald Family Room being built at Marotta Family Hospital in St. Catharines during the team’s annual fundraiser. They were touched and honored by the generosity of their colleagues, many of whom have also witnessed directly or indirectly the invaluable support that Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) provides families during difficult times.

“I am very happy that there is a Ronald McDonald Family Room at Niagara Health for parents who are going through a difficult time during their child’s stay in the hospital,” said Kristin Provenzano, laboratory administrative assistant, who used RMHC when her daughter was born prematurely. . “It’s comforting to connect with other families and have a place to go and get away from the clinical units and all the loud alarms. The family room will bring a sense of community and can be a saving grace for them.

The inspiration for the donation came from laboratory technologist Cheryl Fryer-Wasielewski when she discovered that Niagara Health would soon have a family room. “Having used the RMHC rooms at McMaster Children’s Hospital and loving my experience with them, I thought it would be a good fundraising idea to add to the many other fundraisers that the lab team had organized in the past,” Fryer-Wasielewski said.

Because of the deeply personal importance that RMHC holds for the team, RMHC raised $1,085 which will be used to provide snacks for families in the new family room. Their fundraising goal was $500.

Read some of the team’s personal stories below, in their own words.

Kristin and Siena Provenzano

My daughter Siena was born 14 weeks premature and weighed less than two pounds. I didn’t know what battle awaited us; 71 days of multiple blood transfusions, ventilation, pulmonary steroids, a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) for a long course of antibiotics, more needle sticks than can ever be counted, multiple head ultrasounds, temperature fluctuations, endless prayers and more tears than imaginable. Navigating all of this during a global health pandemic was just icing on the cake. Even the good days were harder than you can imagine. Thankfully, my little girl has grown from a tiny, sickly micro-preemie to an incredibly hilarious, kind, adorable and loving (almost) three year old!

Once I left the intensive care unit (ICU) shortly after Siena was born, my husband convinced me to visit the Ronald McDonald House (RMH) in Hamilton and consider staying there. stay, instead of going back and forth. My eyes filled with tears as I toured the house, wondering how this was happening to us, but also thinking about how impressive this place looked and how kind and welcoming the staff were. We quickly realized that this would become our second home.

Not only did we have the comfort of being close to Siena, but RMH provided us with home-cooked meals, a clean, safe place to stay, and allowed us to focus primarily on our daughter’s well-being.

My family is forever grateful for the comfort, flexibility and hospitality that RMH has provided us.

Cheryl and Kendra Fryer-Wasielewski

When my daughter Kendra was three months old, she suddenly stopped eating and cried constantly, even though she was still a good eater and healthy baby. I immediately took her to St. Catharines Hospital as she was becoming extremely lethargic and weak. After being transferred to McMaster Children’s Hospital, she was diagnosed with environmentally-acquired infant botulism. We stayed in the hospital for a month. I didn’t stay at RMH because I was able to stay in the hospital room with Kendra. However, I would go to the family rooms for meals and just to hang out for a bit.

I will never forget the people I met in these rooms, I was always greeted with kindness and grace. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated the coffee and snack cart that came to the rooms twice a day. We attended movie nights, read books and felt right at home. Having a place like this when you’re going through something so difficult is priceless. RMHC is a fantastic organization that will always be close to my heart.

Tania and Aiden Penner

My family and I will always be grateful for the support and hospitality we received from RMH.

I have a heart condition that causes high blood pressure and episodes of arrhythmia. When I was 32 weeks pregnant, I had atrial fibrillation and had to have cardioversion. I was sent to McMaster Children’s Hospital for the remainder of my pregnancy. When my son was born, he was rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit because he was suffering from complications from the medications I was taking during pregnancy.

Thanks to RMH, I was able to stay by his side during his recovery. I received several meals and snacks a day, a place to rest, transportation to and from the hospital, and access to a wheelchair while I recovered from my C-section. My husband and daughter were also able to meet me for dinner each evening, served by the most wonderful volunteers.

We appreciate everything RMH has done for us! It truly is an incredible resource for families.

Learn more about Niagara Health’s upcoming Ronald McDonald Family Room here.