The Vita Family
Sophie was born on March 13, 2009, several weeks early, weighing a little more than three pounds. She spent 33 days in the neonatal intensive care unit at the hospital with her parents, Tim and Whitney Vita desperate to be close by.Tim, a Unum employee and his wife, Whitney live in the East Brainerd area and were able to return home after a long day at the hospital, however during the day they were grateful to have the use of the Ronald McDonald Family Room for quick breaks.
“It’s not like a waiting room in the hospital, as soon as you get out of the elevator, you turn the corner and walk in there and it’s like a home with a couch and a kitchen and a laundry room,” said Whitney Vita.
Whitney shares that during the three weeks that Sophie was receiving care in the hospital, they used the Ronald McDonald Family Room daily to grab snacks, refresh and relax.
”It was great to be able to send email updates to our family,” said Tim Vita.
The Ronald McDonald Family Room is located on the 3rd floor of Children’s Hospital at Erlanger, just steps away from the pediatric intensive care unit. It is fully equipped with all the comforts of home including a computer with internet access and offers a place of refuge to families in the hospital where their child is staying because of illness or injury.
“You get so tired sometimes going back and forth, I got several good naps on the couch in the Family Room,” added Tim.
Research shows that a family’s presence in the hospital helps children heal faster. Staying close by allows parents to better communicate with their child’s medical team and improves adherence to complicated treatment plans.
The Vitas are grateful they had The Ronald McDonald Family Room during their hour of need. Sophie is now a happy, healthy 10 month old baby and weighs 15 pounds. Sophie’s parents say she’s enjoying what most kids her age enjoy, learning how to say “Mama” and rolling around everywhere.
The Vitas have in turn decided to give back to The Ronald McDonald House by serving as volunteers. Whitney is a member of the Alpha Delta Pi Sorority, an organization that has chosen Ronald McDonald House Charities as their national charity, so she volunteers with her local chapter at The Ronald McDonald House. Tim Vita also now volunteers 3 hours per month in the Ronald McDonald Family Room.
“When you’re in your own situation, you think it’s just NICU families using the facility but it’s really a broader group of families whose children have different needs who utilize the Family Room,” concludes Tim.