Rosenbaum Family House readies for move to new home

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Like any growing family, the Rosenbaum Family House at Ruby Memorial Hospital is moving early next year to a bigger, better facility across the parking lot from its current location.

The Family House offers a home away from home for adult patients and their families traveling from more than 50 miles away. Currently adjacent to Ruby Memorial, it provides laundry facilities, a library, puzzles and games, two common kitchens and five meals a week. Its 30 rooms — 29 guest rooms and a day room — are always full.Ruby-25-logo.jpg

The new facility, which will also house WVU Healthcare’s Child Development Center, can host 40 families, a 10-room increase that will put a big dent in the Family House’s waiting list, which is perpetually 15 to 20 deep.

“As soon as someone checks out, we have a new family checking in as soon as the room is prepared,” Jena Prokopchuk, director of Family House, said.

The greatest change is that the Family House will no longer be physically connected to the hospital. But according to Prokopchuk, hospital access will actually improve. Some treatment areas, such as the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, are a long walk from the current Family House. For some patients and guests, the commute on foot is taxing. At the new location, hospital shuttles will escort guests directly to the door of the area they need.

Rosenbaum Family House was the dream of Hilda Rosenbaum, a mother of three who co-owned a clothing store in Morgantown with her husband, Richard. When two of their children, Nancy and Richard, were diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, WVU Hospitals did not yet exist, so she had to seek care for her children far from home in Boston. Alone in a new city with limited means and no connections, Hilda spent many long nights sleeping on cots and in chairs in hospital rooms.

After losing Nancy at age 6 and later Richard at age 36, Hilda resolved to ensure that families who travel to Morgantown for medical care do not have to go it alone like she did. Hilda’s founding donation led to the birth of Rosenbaum Family House in 1999. Rosenbaum passed away this summer on July 4, at age 87.

“My mother did lots of philanthropic things in Morgantown in the name of Richard and Nancy,” Debbie Rosenbaum Jones, Hilda’s daughter, said. “But this was her culmination of everything she did into this one big kind of last thing.”

Hilda’s work has indeed touched many families, more than 10,000 since the Rosenbaum Family House opened its doors, hosting guests from as far away as Greece, Israel and Taiwan.

The Family House also hosts guests from areas like Culloden, W.Va., the hometown of Tom and Joyce Johnson. When Tom was diagnosed with leukemia, he came to Ruby for a life-saving bone marrow transplant.

“There’s no way we could afford a hotel room to stay in for this big long time. I don’t know what we would have done,” Tom said.

The Johnsons arrived July 15, 2013, and stayed 80 days. They signed up for the waiting list in May in order to have a room available when they arrived two months later.

“They’re more of a family atmosphere than just being a place to stay,” said Tom. “It’s not a hotel, it’s a family atmosphere.”

Joyce appreciated meeting others who were going through similar experiences. “This place has been a godsend,” she said.

Guests are asked to pay $20 per night for staying at Family House, and no guest is turned away for the inability to pay. It costs $45 per night per room to operate the Family House. Donations from guests and others make up the difference.

“Our house runs like any other house, only times 29, and soon to be times 40,” Prokopchuk said.

Anyone interested in supporting Rosenbaum Family House can visit its website, www.rfhwvuh.com, which includes a Wish List of household items, as well as other giving information. Those who wish to contribute can contact Janice Triplin, house coordinator, at 304-598-6094.

WVU Healthcare’s flagship hospital, Ruby Memorial, is celebrating its 25th anniversary. It opened on July 19, 1988, after a generous donation from Morgantown philanthropist Hazel Ruby McQuain. The anniversary celebration will continue through the fall, marking a quarter century of care for tens of thousands of patients.


For more information:
Amy Johns, Director of Public Affairs, 304-293-7087
sf: 09-18-13

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