The families of children hospitalized at UVA need affordable housing. Help exists, but more is needed; Charlottesville’s Ronald McDonald House operates continuously between 98-100% capacity. UVA Hospitality House meets some of the need, but does not allow children by policy. Many families of pediatric patients are left to choose between a long, costly hotel stay or sleeping in their cars.
While the average length of a stay in the NICU is thirty days, micropreemies are hospitalized for an average of three months and can end up staying for close to a year. In 2016, 15,803 UVA families qualified for some form of assistance; some families spend upwards of $9,000 per hospital stay on lodging alone—on top of their medical bills.
The need for convenient, caring, and cost-free accommodations increases every year. UVA Hospital’s ranking of 30th for Neonatology on the US News and World Report for 2017 reinforces that UVA Children’s Hospital is no longer simply serving our local community, they are serving the state and with that comes more pressure for patient housing. In 2015, 3,700 families living 2-5 hours from UVA Children’s Hospital sought treatment here. In 2016, that number increased to 4,100 families. 2017 promises to exceed that number. In the last year alone, UVA’s NICU volume has increased 25%, with the average daily census rising from 38 to 48 patients.
UVA Children’s Hospital is also actively growing several of its pediatric programs, which further increases the need for more patient and family housing. Two of these programs are the solid organ pediatric liver and heart transplant programs. In 2016, UVA conducted one liver and five heart transplants. In 2017, they have already conducted five liver and eight heart transplants. Last year, UVA conducted 5% of the pediatric heart and liver transplants in the country. New partnerships with the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters promise to grow the number of families seeking treatment here even further, with some pediatric patients who would have formerly gone to other hospitals being funneled to UVA Children’s Hospital instead.
UVA Children’s Hospital is also developing a cutting edge immunotherapy treatment protocol for pediatric cancers and will be opening a remodeled bone marrow transplant unit this month that will begin taking new patients in early 2018.
The expansion of UVA Children’s Hospital’s programs and partnerships means that more life-saving treatments are available to children. LilyPads wants to ensure that when these children and their families seek this care in our community that they also have a comfortable, healing, and emotionally supportive environment in which to stay.
We can do better. And if we can, we must