As soon as they arrived, a burden was lifted. “When we came to the door something changed,” Graciela said. “Even though our baby was across the street fighting for his life, having this place was so good. It gave us a lot of peace of mind.”
Two days after Santiago was born, Graciela and Jose were told he was very sick but there was hope. He would need multiple surgeries for years, but he would survive. First the newborn had to be transferred to another hospital that had equipment to help him breathe. A few hours later, doctors said he should be transferred again, this time to Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital to have immediate surgery.
Graciela and Jose lived about three hours from the hospital and worried about being that far from Santiago. That’s when a social worker told them about the Ronald McDonald House nearby, which was available at no cost to Santiago’s parents.
“It was such a relief to know that just across the street from the hospital you can stay for as long as you need and have a place just to go and have a shower and to eat something,” Graciela said.
The House also became a vital resource for Graciela and Jose. It also provided a support system of compassionate staff & volunteers so they never felt alone, despite having no family nearby.
Being around other families also provided perspective. “Being there showed us that all these people are facing the same situation and are fighting with you at the same time,” Graciella said.
“When you’re there, they’re like your family,” she said. “And when you leave the House you miss them. You are there because you need to be there, but when you’re back home you want to see them and you want to hug them because they were so helpful when you needed a hug or someone to talk to.”