Keeping Families Close in Syracuse
Story and photos submitted by Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central New York
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central New York operates the CNY Ronald McDonald House 24 hours a day, year-round, for families whose children are seriously ill and receiving treatment at Syracuse-area hospitals and medical centers. For more than 35 years, families from across New York state and northern Pennsylvania, and, in some cases, foreign countries, have found a temporary home at the house. The Steeds of Binghamton is one of those families.
Tricia Steed was 23 weeks pregnant with identical twin daughters, Alva and Della, when her water broke prematurely. Tricia and her husband, Chris, were referred to Crouse Hospital, where Tricia would spend the next four weeks on bedrest.
At 27 weeks, Tricia went into labor and had an emergency cesarean section, but a blood clot in her lung caused her to go into cardiac arrest during the procedure. Tricia, a cardiac nurse herself, now needed one to help her.
Once both girls were delivered, they were immediately placed in Crouse Hospital’s Walter R.G. Baker Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, with Alva weighing 2 pounds, 7 ounces, and Della weighing 2 pounds, 9 ounces. While her daughters fought for their lives in the NICU, Tricia had her own fight ahead of her in the intensive care unit. Tricia’s heart stopped three times before she was put on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine as a form of temporary life support.
While his wife and newborn daughters were in the hospital, Chris found a home within walking distance at the CNY Ronald McDonald House. After several days, Tricia woke up and was taken off the ECMO machine. She was discharged nearly two weeks later and joined Chris at the CNY Ronald McDonald House, so they could remain close to their daughters. Tricia’s father and stepmother traveled from Arkansas and were able to stay with them at the house, too.
While Alva and Della continued to grow stronger in the NICU, the CNY Ronald McDonald House proved to be a place of respite for the Steeds. For Tricia, the house was not only a place to stay close to her daughters, but a place where she could continue to get stronger herself.
“The CNY Ronald McDonald House meant everything to me,” Tricia said. “I was able to stay together with my husband and spend as much time at the hospital with my children as I could. It also gave me a beautiful, cozy and comforting place to unplug, sleep, relax and rehab my own health.”
The house is fully accessible and provides guest families with the convenience of a private room and warm bed, a home-cooked meal and a supportive environment.
“When I was at the house, I knew that I could focus on my health and my babies in the NICU and that there would always be food to eat, no matter what time we came back from the hospital,” Tricia said. “I was weak from my time in the ICU, so the elevator at the house and available shuttle service were both a huge help for me, so I could conserve my energy.”
After more than two months, Alva and Della became strong enough to be transferred to a hospital in Binghamton for continued care, and Tricia and Chris were able to return home. Today, everyone is happy and healthy, and the twins are more than a year old!
Each year, the CNY Ronald McDonald House continues to see an increase in its occupancy rate. With a growing number of families to serve, community support is increasingly vital to help the nonprofit organization offset its annual operating costs and care for those families in need. SWM
To learn more about how you can volunteer or to make a donation to help support guest families, visit rmhcny.org.