Monday, May 13, 2013

Family House: Over Three Decades of Serving Young Patient Families

by Gail Berkley
Sun-Reporter Volume 67 Number 16, Thursday April 18, 2013

Imagine if you have a seriously ill child who is hospitalized miles away from home. As a parent, you would want to spend almost every moment possible at the child's bedside and commuting to and from the hospital daily would only add to your stress. For over 30 years Family House in San Francisco has fulfilled a vital need for parents facing such challenges.

Family House provides a caring home away from home for parents of seriously ill children who are patients at University of California San Francisco Benioff Children's hospital.

As UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital prepares to move to a new location in the city's Mission Bay area, Family House also plans to relocate to serve families in brand new facilities.

In order to make the move, Family House must acquire land and construct a new building in the vicinity of the hospital. Plans are under way to ensure that families will receive the same care, comfort, and compassionate housing completely free of charge while their child receives care at the new hospital. The agency hopes to open the new facility by 2016.

"We are grateful to Mayor Lee and City Administrator Naomi Kelly for their strong support of our move to Mission Bay," said Executive Director Alexandra Morgan. "Their ongoing support, along with their staff, has been critical to helping us relocate with the new children's hospital and continue serving the most vulnerable members of the Bay Area community."

Founded in 1981, Family House provides temporary housing free of charge at two locations to the young patients' families. To qualify for the housing families must live more than 50 miles from UCSF. Families are referred by pediatric social workers and many of them live at or below the low-income status as determined by UCSF.

With a $1.5 million annual budget, the non-profit organization serves an average of 34 families per night. The two current locations sustain a nearly 100% occupancy rate and can accommodate 107 people per night. Over the course of a year more than 2,000 families are served, according to agency statistics.

Working in conjunction with UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital, the agency strives to provide family-centered care for patient families.

One family that has made repeat visits to Family House is that of a young girl named Sharita. Now 9, Sharita has had a kidney transplant. Her aunt and guardian, Suprena Dickson of Clovis, first stayed at Family House in September, 2011 for about 2 months. After that, she has come to Family House for short visits a few times a year.

The families of children undergoing bone marrow transplants, chemotherapy, and radiation are the agency's most common guests. Family House also accommodates those facing other life-threatening childhood illnesses such as fetal surgery, transplants, and cardiac patients when space is available.

For more information on Family House log onto

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