Family Rooms in Scarborough celebrate first anniversary

December 08, 2016
By Jane Kitchen, Communications Specialist, Scarborough and Rouge Hospital
Sani and Layth Samari with Family Room Coordinator Maggie Ramirez-Hodgins


Staff, volunteers and families came together last week to celebrate the first anniversary of the opening of the two RMHC Toronto Family Rooms at the Centenary site of Scarborough and Rouge Hospital (SRH).

The Family Rooms opened last December to offer the families of seriously ill children in the paediatrics and neonatal intensive care units at the hospital a “home away from home” just steps away from where their sick child is being treated. Since that grand opening, the Family Rooms have supported more than 900 families.

“The Rooms have not only been a benefit to the patients and families admitted to one of the two units, but also to the staff that work in the children’s program,” says Danielle Powell, manager of children’s program at Centenary site of SRH.

“The staff have been proud to introduce the Rooms to families, to encourage them to take at least five minutes for themselves.”

Like the RMHC Toronto Family Rooms at other hospitals, the spaces are equipped with a lounge area and TV, a kitchenette stocked with beverages and snacks, and washrooms with shower facilities. Thanks to the 53 volunteers who work in the Family Rooms, they are open every day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., with the sleep rooms available 24 hours a day.

“Without the volunteers, this space is just a pretty room,” says Deborah Holmes, RMHC Toronto director of programs and operations. Gesturing around the room on the paediatric floor, she says: “This is a room of rest and respite, where volunteers provide families with the basics of life and staples for comfort: safety, shelter, some food, and someone to listen.”

Sani Samari used the Family Room in paediatrics this year when her 16-year-old son Saif was in hospital a total of 45 days over several months. “When I need rest, I come here to relax,” she says. “Everybody here helps me. And having the Room helped so much – being able to shower made me feel so much better.”

When family and friends come to visit Saif in hospital, they could rest in the Family Room too. Her husband Tahrir has napped in the recliners, while her son Layth, 22, has stayed overnight in the sleep room. “It feels like a family here,” says Layth.

Asked if she had anything else to say about the Room, her voice grows heavy with emotion. She says, simply: “Thank you.”


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