Early twins prompt family room opening
When Queenstown twins Hudson and Ivy Jones were born at just 30 weeks' gestation, Southland Hospital decided to open the Ronald McDonald Family Room a little early.
With extremely premature babies, parents Nicky and Adrian Jones had several arduous weeks ahead of them.
"It is definitely an emotional rollercoaster . . . it took a few days to hit me, but I saw them with their little hats and tubes on and it was all so indefinite," Mrs Jones said.
Having the Ronald McDonald Family Room available made a "horrible situation just so much more bearable", she said.
"Some of the other mothers that had been in my situation previously had to move from room to room, never really being able to settle, but being just next door meant I could concentrate on my babies."
The new facility at Southland Hospital is conveniently positioned between the children's ward and neonatal wards, providing parents of seriously sick children with a place to seek solace.
Ronald McDonald House South Island chief executive Emma Jones said the facility could be used by families with children in hospital.
"Any family with a child in the hospital can use the communal kitchen, dining and living spaces," she said. "[But] families with the greatest need are able to stay in one of the four bedrooms, at completely no charge."
Since the facility opened on December 12 it has provided sleeping accommodation for seven families, and several others have used the free laundry and kitchen.
Ms Jones said the facility let parents step away from the traditional hospital environment so that they could gain strength and focus on their child's recovery.
"Families can also make a cup of tea and have something to eat in the facility, even if they are not staying in the family room overnight."
After spending more than six weeks in hospital with her twins, Nicky Jones said that despite the family room being attached to the hospital, it was a welcome escape.
"The moment you step through that door it is like you are away from the hospital and it gives you a chance to recover both physically and mentally."
The twins are now settling in at home in Queenstown.
The Southland Times