Emmerson was born premature at just 28 weeks and 5 days gestation. Briana and Cameron Hayward were transferred from Allen Hospital in Waterloo to UnityPoint Health- St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids. He spent two months in the NICU and was diagnosed with BPD/CLD and needed to remain on oxygen. They learned that Emmerson would need a PDA coil, and they were transferred again to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital where Emmerson spent another two and a half weeks in the NICU. During Emmerson’s 80 day stay in the hospital, and time spent in three different cities, Briana and Cameron were grateful to have the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois (RMHC-EIWI) supporting their family. Not only did they find solace in the Ronald McDonald Family Room at St. Luke’s Hospital, but they also found a home away from home at the Ronald McDonald House of Iowa City. Briana shared, “We were grateful to have the Ronald McDonald House. We were supported throughout Emmerson’s hospital stay, even when we traveled from hospital to hospital.”
During their first few months in the hospital, the couple practically lived at the Ronald McDonald Family Room at St. Luke’s. They were able to utilize the sleep rooms, laundry, and showers. Having breakfast, lunch, and dinner all supplied helped them focus on Emmerson. Cameron explained, “We always knew we had a meal or a place to do laundry. They provided us with resources like shampoo and conditioner; they gave us what we needed to get by. It was one less thing to worry about.” Being able to use the dining room in the Family Room was one of their favorite memories. It gave them an opportunity to make connections with other parents in similar circumstances while enjoying their meals. When they moved to the Ronald McDonald House of Iowa City, they felt grateful to have a quiet and welcoming place to come home to after long days at the hospital. It allowed them to get the rest they needed to help them get through difficult times.
Briana and Cameron recall how warm and kind the staff were at the Ronald McDonald House. They appreciated that staff would check in on Emmerson and see how he was doing. They made sure that Cameron and Briana were comfortable and had everything they needed. Cameron shared, “I couldn’t always be at the hospital due to work, but it gave me a peace of mind knowing that Briana and Emmerson had support through RMHC-EIWI.”