“RMHCK is more than just a house – to us it’s a family and it always will be a family to us. It’s more than just walls and door and windows and furniture, of course…The folks at RMHC treat us the way they want to be treated - with respect. They try to meet needs as best they possibly can whatever need that may be and that’s worth a lot right there.”
In mid-March, the Prudens, with their very new son, born at 27 weeks and four days, left their home to make a new home in a new town. Meet Martin and Tiffany Pruden from Owensboro, Kentucky. Four months ago, they were expecting their first child and he decided to make an early appearance, much to everyone’s surprise.
Tiffany noticed her unborn son was not moving as usual and decided to go to the Obstetrics Emergency Department in Owensboro. During testing, the doctors noticed Tiffany’s amniotic fluid was low, her baby was not moving, and his heart rate was not as it should be. They decided to perform an emergency C-section and, after delivery, the air team from Norton Children’s Hospital life-flighted Martin and Tiffany’s son to the hospital in Louisville.
Knowing the Prudens would be spending an unknown length of time in Louisville, the hospital staff and the Norton Children’s Hospital air team recommended Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kentuckiana (RMHCK) to Martin and Tiffany. Upon arrival to Louisville, the couple investigated staying at our Ronald McDonald House and arrived the week the entire country entered quarantine because of COVID-19.
Because of the quarantine, RMHCK stopped admitting new guest families into the House, our Family Rooms closed, volunteers were not allowed to visit, and all non-essential staff started working from home. For all of us, things quickly changed, and fear and uncertainty spread over us like an unwelcome blanket.
For the Prudens and all the other families staying with us, an extra quilt of fear and uncertainty covered them because of the status of their children’s health. In addition, they were not surrounded by the people and community they always turned to for support. Instead, they looked to us.
When asked how it feels to stay at RMHCK as a family, Martin responded: “It’s a very, very nice feeling to be here, honestly. We feel like you guys are like family to us. You help us with all the circumstances that are going on in our life now. Being that we’re a distance from home. It’s just so nice to have a place to stay that is safe and like I said folks, that when we come in, have a greeting smile for us and it’s just makes us feel good overall.”
Martin and Tiffany realized they would be spending a significant amount of time in Louisville while their son received care. That thought helped them recognize the value of RMHCK and what that meant for their family. Tiffany said, “The alternative of not being able to stay [at Ronald McDonald House] would’ve been a lot more stressful to figure out. We would either be at the hospital or traveling back and forth from Owensboro to here.” (Owensboro is a two-hour drive from Louisville.)
Having a premature baby in the hospital is a fragile circumstance for parents or caregivers because of the child’s lack of immunity. Having a premature baby in the hospital during a pandemic takes that fragility to another level. Martin told us, “One thing that’s really been a plus for us is the availability of meals. Because with the Coronavirus that’s going on around, it’s kind of jeopardizing for us to get out and risk anything at all. So…that’s one thing that we are very very grateful for there.”
Meals are only one part of the wraparound services and care RMHCK provides for families. Tiffany said, “You meet the basic needs of families that come in. And families that have an emergency situation like we do…I wasn’t even packed. I had nothing ready. To come here and have toiletries, meals, a safe place, a nice bathroom, and room where I could get around easier after surgery like that. It’s just been tremendous to have all that. Just meeting those basic needs was a big thing. There in the beginning and even now.” Meeting the basic needs of families, providing them the home and support that allows them to stay together while they focus on the healing of their sick children, is our mission.