Ronald McDonald House Offers Sanctuary for Parents of Hospitalized Children

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CAMDEN, N.J. -

When a child is in need of prolonged care at a hospital, the Ronald McDonald House provides the family with a special room for comfort.

The Ronald McDonald House Family Room helped an Egg Harbor Township family during its time of need when Kent Patrick Wenzel was born on November 4th, 2016, at just 23 weeks gestation.

“He was one pound, three ounces and he was 11 and half inches long,” said Joyanna Wenzel, mother of baby Kent. "It was kind of overwhelming to see him for the first time. He was red and tiny, and his eyes were still fused shut—his eyes weren’t open yet."

He had a long journey in Cooper Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), and his mom didn’t have to miss even one of his 101 days spent there. During his stay in the NICU, Wenzel would walk right across the street to the Ronald McDonald House of Southern New Jersey to stay overnight. Thanks to the room, she could stay right by Kent’s side through all hours of the day.

“I feel like I didn’t miss out on anything, which is a big part,” said Wenzel. "I hear that a lot of babies do much better when their parents are with them, and I think that’s why Kent has such a good outcome."

I mean there’s some hard things that you see in the NICU, and this is kind of a place I could just come and think a little bit and not hear monitors going off.

“What makes medicine really work is when you have a family, and support, and a nurturing environment,” said Dr. Michael Goodman, Chairman of Pediatrics at Cooper Hospital and a board member at the Ronald McDonald House of Southern New Jersey. "So, the neonatal intensive care units become almost a family away from home. The nurses just love and care and cherish the babies and the time they spend with them; they feel like they’re their own. But, to have a parent with the nurse, a parent with the physician team, it just allows that child to do very well."

Eleven South Jersey hospitals have such rooms, including Cooper Hospital.

“That enables moms like Joy to be able to stay in the hospital and then get something to eat, to read a book, to relax, to regain the energy that they need to be able to care for their children,” said Tina Fiorentino, Director of Development for the Ronald McDonald House of Southern New Jersey.

During her time at the Cooper Hospital, Wenzel would take a break from the NICU in the Ronald McDonald House Family Room.

“I mean there’s some hard things that you see in the NICU, and this is kind of a place I could just come and think a little bit and not hear monitors going off,” said Wenzel.

Now at seven pounds, six ounces, and 19 inches long, Kent is now home. At almost five-months-old, he's with his mom who is very happy that she could be there for every milestone thus far, and hopeful for all the ones yet to come. 


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