Avery Joy Berner, 5 (center) and her parents Marlene and Jack (baseball cap), cut the ribbon to reopen the Ronald McDonald House Charities NY Metro Family Room at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital. Also pictured, Matt Campo, CEO, RMHC NYM (3rd from left) and members of RMHC NYM and Stony Brook Medicine.

Ronald McDonald House Charities NY Metro, or RMHC NYM, has reopened its family room at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital.

The organization’s respite room for families of children who are sick or injured had been closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a really special place that gives families an opportunity to step out of the clinical environment and into a space that’s really home-like” Matt Campo, CEO of RMHC NYM, said in a statement. “When families enter this space they’re able to lean on each other for support. It’s really the magic of this program.”

Representatives from RMHC NYM and Stony Brook were at the official reopening that was announced Thursday. They were joined by the Berner family, of Shoreham, whose daughter is undergoing a six-month chemotherapy.

“It’s really awesome that we have this space where we can get a change of scenery and get out of the room that we’re in for a month at a time,” said Marlena Berner, whose daughter is undergoing treatment.

“Some of the volunteers have been through the nightmare that we are living right now, so it’s nice to have that support as well,” Berner said.

The family room is a 900 square-foot room that features a kitchen area, laundry facility and shower. These amenities are provided to help  keep families close to their ill children in the hospital.

Volunteers serve beverages and snacks for families. Parents who can’t bear to leave the child’s bedside can use laundry and shower facilities, which are open 24 hours a day.

The room was designed and decorated by Vasi Ypsilantis and Margreet Cevasco, who also designed the RMHC NYM kitchen in the New Hyde Park Ronald McDonald House in 2013 through Project Design.

The room was the first at Stony Brook Hospital, originally opened in 2013, and rejoins another family room that was opened in 2022 in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in the main hospital building. The room had been closed during COVID-19, and volunteers operated a hospitality cart that visited families in their rooms.


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