From Florida to our Family Room in the Behavioral Health Pavilion

By Rick Shepherd, Communications Manager, RMHC of Central Ohio

Some may not be aware that we are required by Nationwide Children’s Hospital to have staff members, not volunteers, welcome families and family members to our Ronald McDonald Family Room in the Big Lots Behavioral Health Pavilion. That’s why many of us who wear different hats professionally with our chapter, can often be found greeting folks to our room in the BHP.

I just wanted to share a short chat I had with the grandma of a patient being cared for here in the BHP, where I’m working today. When checking her in to our family room, she said she was from nearby Pickerington, Ohio and she’s been here to the room several times over that past several weeks, but the patient is being released and she would be headed home today…except that now, a hurricane is probably destroying her house as we speak. She further explained, with tears in her eyes, she’s the patient’s grandma from Florida and she’s actually been staying with the patient’s parent’s home in Pickerington to support them and her grandchild during this tough mental health crisis for the family. However, she actually lives in Punta Gorda, Florida where Hurricane Ian – a category 4 storm at the moment and one of the worst in a hundred years to hit the area – is currently baring down. She tells me she may not have a house to go home to now and feels fortunate to be staying with family up here a little longer, until the storm passes and she can return to assess the damage. There have been more than a few families here today in the sitting area watching The Weather Channel coverage of the storm with great concern for those they know there.

It’s a good reminder of the additional stressors, unrelated to their medical journey here, that can be playing a part in the lives of the families we’re caring for when they’re in our House or one of our family rooms. We here at RMHC of Central Ohio are also thinking of our volunteers and “extended work family” here who may be in Florida, have homes there, or who themselves have family members there as well as all of the RMHC chapters in Florida – especially along the west coast – who are facing quite a stress-test right now themselves. Here’s hoping everyone who lives in Florida is staying safe and has the best possible outcome.