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Celebrating the grand opening of the Ronald McDonald Family Room Program at Stony Brook Children's Hospital are, left to right: Kenneth Kaushansky MD, MACP, Senior Vice President, Health Sciences, and Dean, Stony Brook University School of Medicine; New York State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle (R-Port Jefferson); Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD; Margaret M. McGovern, MD, PhD, Physician-in-Chief, Stony Brook Children's Hospital; Matthew Campo, Executive Director, Ronald McDonald House of Long Island (RMH-LI); Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket); and L. Reuven Pasternak, MD, Chief Executive Officer, Stony Brook University Hospital.
New facility will provide respite, support for families of hospitalized children
Kim and John Ragone of Manorville haven't felt a sense of normalcy in their lives since their 17-year-old daughter Rachel was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare disease in which cancer cells are found in bone or in soft tissue. But with the opening of the new Ronald McDonald Family Room at Stony Brook Children's Hospital, they have found a place to relax during their daughter's frequent hospitalizations.

"The room will be a blessing for my family," Kim Ragone said during ribbon-cutting festivities on Aug. 1. "This gives us a sense of normalcy, and something as simple as having this dining table to eat at will never be taken for granted…. The living space here gives parents a place to feel comfortable and still be there to support their child."

Stony Brook Children's partnered with the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island (RMH-LI) to develop the Family Room Program, a family-friendly respite area located on the 11th floor of the hospital. As Suffolk County's only children's hospital, Stony Brook Children's serves a population of 1.5 million. The room will provide support for families of more than 7,000 children who are hospitalized each year at Stony Brook Children's, helping to alleviate their anxiety of having a child in the hospital by keeping them close to their child's bedside.

"We look forward to today's events as just the first step in a long-term relationship with the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island, as we continue to grow Stony Brook Children's into the finest children's hospital on Long Island," said Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD.

Kim Ragone of Manorville, center, holds the ribbon while Dr. Margaret McGovern, Physician-in-Chief for Stony Brook Children's Hospital, does the honors during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Ronald McDonald Family Room Program at Stony Brook Children's. Looking on, left to right, are: Dr. Kenneth Kaushansky, Dean, Stony Brook University School of Medicine; Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr., Stony Brook University President; New York State Legislator Kenneth P. LaValle; Matthew Campo, Executive Director of Ronald McDonald House of Long Island (RMH-LI); Kate Hunt-Rotolo, Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chairman of the Family Room Committee for RMH-LI; and Dr. Reuven Pasternak, Chief Executive Officer, Stony Brook University Hospital.
"This new facility represents the beginning of a tremendous partnership between the Ronald McDonald House and Stony Brook Children's," said Margaret M. McGovern, MD, PhD, Professor and Chairman, Department of Pediatrics, Stony Brook School of Medicine, and Physician-in-Chief, Stony Brook Children's. "By providing a calm, restful environment for families of our patients, the room will improve parents' ability to advocate for their children. Research shows that a family's presence helps children heal faster and cope better with the stress of being in the hospital."

The Family Room offers a fully stocked kitchenette, a dining area, a lounge area with a flat-screen television, laptops with internet access, private showers and lockers, laundry facilities and a transportation program. A van will transport families to airports, doctors' appointments and drug stores, and will run errands for the facility. It will be staffed by Ronald McDonald House of Long Island employees, as well as approximately 40 volunteers, from 9 AM to 9 PM seven days a week, with services provided at no cost to families of children being cared for at the hospital.

"The Family Room at Stony Brook Children's is an exciting and much-needed expansion of our services into Suffolk County," said Matthew Campo, Executive Director of RMH-LI. "It will enable the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island to serve thousands of additional families, offering comfort and convenience for parents who often have to travel back and forth to the hospital to be with their child."

Kim Ragone, right, of Manorville, takes comfort in the living room space of the new Ronald McDonald Family Room with her 17-year-old daughter, Rachel, who is a patient at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital.
The Ronald McDonald House welcomes volunteers to assist with the Family Room and operate the transportation program, as well as committee and advisory board members to recruit volunteers, build awareness, plan events, raise funds and engage in public advocacy. Charitable contributions and donations of supplies are welcome, including pantry items, cleaning supplies, kitchen supplies, bathroom supplies and gift cards. For more information, contact Jennifer Nicholson, Director of Special Projects, at (516) 775-5683, ext. 158, or jnicholson@rmhlongisland.org.

About Stony Brook Children’s Hospital:
Established in June 2010, Stony Brook Children's is Suffolk County's only children’s hospital. More than 7,000 children and adolescents are admitted each year. Stony Brook Children's operates 100 pediatric beds and has more than 140 full-time pediatric physicians and surgeons in 30 different specialties and over 200 voluntary pediatric faculty members. The hospital is the Level 4 Regional Perinatal Center for our area and has a Level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. It is home to the nation's first Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Center and also offers a Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Program, Pediatric Cardiology Program, Pediatric HIV and AIDS Center, Cystic Fibrosis Center and the Cody Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities. To learn more, visit www.stonybrookchildrens.org.

About Ronald McDonald House of Long Island:
The Ronald McDonald House of Long Island is the 100th House of over 300 Ronald McDonald House programs worldwide. Located in New Hyde Park, NY, the House accommodates families in a warm and supportive environment. For over 26 years, RMH-LI has been a home-away-from-home for over 18,000 families in the United States and more than 80 countries around the world who are dealing with the pain of having a child undergoing medical treatment at nearby hospitals. For more information about RMH-LI, log on to www.rmhlongisland.org, www.facebook.com/rmhli and www.twitter.com/rmh_li.
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