Shriners in Cincinnati gets $5 million anonymous donation

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Shriners Hospitals for Children in Cincinnati has received an anonymous - and generous - gift from a local family.

The family made a $5 million donation to renovate and expand the current on-site parent housing and family care unit.

"Housing for parents is our most unmet facility need, and we had only dreamed that we would some day be able to provide for housing for families completely within the hospital building," said Ron Hitzler, hospital administrator. "It is so important for parents of seriously injured children to have the peace of mind of always being able to be right down the hall from their child."

The pediatric burn hospital has maintained the family care unit, consisting of six hotel-like rooms with small refrigerators, TVs and private bathrooms, since the facility was rebuilt on Burnet Avenue in 1991. The rooms are offered to families who have children in the ICU/critical care unit and are unable to room-in for medical reasons.

Since the unit stays at full capacity year-round, the hospital maintains an off-site parent house and occasionally uses area hotels. A shuttle is used to take these family members to and from the hospital, located a couple of blocks away.

"When we shared this need with the family, they felt a connection," said Vanessa Nicely, director of development at Shriners Hospitals for Children® - Cincinnati. "They immediately identified with the families' need to be close to their kids."

The new family care unit, slated for completion in 2011, will have 18 rooms and includes exercise space, a small kitchen, common areas and laundry facilities. The expansion will allow all families the opportunity to stay on hospital grounds with their children and avoid the added stress of traveling between the hospital and off-site housing each day.

Shriners Hospitals for Children is an international health care system dedicated to providing pediatric specialty care, innovative research and outstanding teaching programs.