RMHC New Zealand provides accommodation and support for families with child a in a hospital away from home. Whether it’s a couple of nights or maybe even a year, our Houses become the families’ ‘home-away-from-home’ and help to relieve some of the everyday stresses so they can focus on their child in hospital.
Racheal Lincoln and Jesse Faulkner know better than most the support RMHC New Zealand provides. They were awaiting the arrival of their first child when - just four days before their due date - they were told that Racheal needed to give birth in Wellington. She had previously suffered rheumatic fever leading to heart failure and open-heart surgery. Her doctors were concerned about the birth putting pressure on her heart and advised her to go to Wellington Hospital, which had better facilities. “If anything went wrong with my heart at least they could get baby out safely and then rush me to wherever I needed to go if my heart started playing up,” says Racheal.
Not knowing how long they might have to be in Wellington, Racheal and Jesse worried about how much it would all cost to find somewhere to stay. At such short notice, all the accommodation near the hospital was either already booked or extremely expensive.
The couple was relieved when the doctors told them there was a room available at Ronald McDonald House just across the road from the hospital. Racheal’s parents Erin and Leonard, who were extremely worried about the birth’s effect on their daughter’s heart, could also stay. They were grateful to be close to support their daughter and son-in-law.
The day after their arrival in Wellington, Racheal went into labour and gave birth to a very healthy little Awatea. Racheal needed to stay on the ward so the doctors could monitor her heart. Throughout those six days, Jesse, Erin and Leonard took turns staying with Racheal and Awatea on the ward. Nana Erin says it was great being able to return to the House to rest whenever they needed to.
“It was very comforting knowing that we could go back and forth from the House at any time of the day or night. Being just across the road took all the stress out of travelling from other accommodation.”
Apart from the proximity to the hospital, the family really appreciated the homely environment at the House. Jesse remembers the place felt inviting, warm and comfortable, with lovely staff. “It was like we were staying at a friend’s place,” he says.
Near the end of their stay, Jesse says his fondest memory was when the whole family spent some quality time together at the House for a couple of hours. “It was great being able to escape the hospital ward, especially for Racheal. We hung out in the lounge, had a coffee and a yarn and just chilled out for a bit.”
The family is now back in Palmerston North and Awatea turned one in August. Racheal loves watching her little girl grow, “she is so cheeky, laughs a lot and loves to dance”. Although theirs was a short journey with Ronald McDonald House, Jesse and Racheal say being able to stay made a huge difference. “Especially because we didn’t know how long we would be there. If there had been any complications with the birth, it was potentially either going to be very expensive or we would’ve been staying quite far away from the hospital.”
The family is thankful to all the supporters who made their stay at the House possible. “We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who supports RMHC New Zealand. You give families like ours the opportunity to be close to loved ones in hospital during a stressful time. We really appreciated being able to stay in such a comfortable and welcoming space.”