It's hard to feel the comforts of home when you're spending night after night inside a hospital room.
It’s even harder when you’re trying to comfort a child who's suffering from a life threatening illness.
A Twin Cities non-profit organization, called “Adopt-a-Room,” is trying to change that.
The group held a meeting Thursday night to get ideas about building hospital rooms that don’t feel like hospital rooms.
“What we're going to try to do with Adopt-a-Room is give kids a choice and some control,” Brian Schepperle, the group’s founder, told a board room crowded with parents and children.
One of the presenters was 8-year-old Brianna Hestekin.
“I have Ewing's Sarcoma,” she told the room, “A rare form of bone cancer.”
Hestekin goes to Fairview University Hospital for chemotherapy every three weeks and has a few ideas about making hospital rooms better.
“Like sponge painting the ceiling with stars, and then clouds on the wall,” she said, for starters. “We could, like, have a big dresser that we could use to put our stuff in, like clothes that we bring to the hospital.”
Schepperle said the room is one thing families dealing with potentially life threatening diseases can control.
“We can’t always make the pain better,” he said. “We can’t always make the prognosis better. But we can work on the environment.”
The idea for Adopt-a-Room came from Schepperle and his friend, David Millington.
Because of their own experiences, they recognized how much better hospitals would be if parents and kids designed the rooms.
Shepperle’s daughter, Katelyn, died after a 10-year battle with Leukemia. Millington spent 63 consecutive nights in hospital rooms before his daughter, Madison, succumbed to spinal muscular atrophy.
“We are just the messenger for our children,” Millington said. “Nothing would have happened without Katelyn and Madison.”
Thursday night, the meeting was about making their dream come true. Parents and children – with life threatening illnesses – talked about what they do and don’t like in hospitals.
“Actually, the food isn't bad for me,” one boy said. “It's the smell. My smell improved when I got the chemo.”
The ideas will be used to design two rooms at Fairview University.
It’s Adopt-a-Room’s hope more Twin Cities hospitals will design rooms like these, so families can enjoy some comforts as they make a most difficult journey.
Each room will cost around $250,000. The money will come from corporate and individual sponsors.
By Scott Goldberg
, KARE 11 News
(Copyright 2004 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)