St-Lukes-Ronald-McDonald-FaA new space is giving families a place to stay when their sick children require an extended stay at a busy eastern Iowa hospital.

The new Ronald McDonald Family Room at St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids is designed to help offset costs that would otherwise add up quickly.

 Kristin Roberts, Executive Director of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois, told KCRG-TV the room is expected result in more than $257,000 a year in combined savings for all the families that stay there.

And there’s an added benefit to the hospital and the patients. “We have research that shows that kids actually heal faster, about 31-percent faster, when mom and dad or direct family are directly involved in the patient care,” Roberts said.

 Emily and Matt Ackerson of Cedar Falls are the first couple to use the new Family Room at St. Luke’s. Emily gave birth on December 13 to twin girls, Nora and Gabriel, just 23 weeks into pregnancy. With infections and the need for surgery, every day has been a struggle for the premature twins.

 Matt describes the last nine weeks as a roller coaster. “Just go day-to-day and just hang on to the good points and hopefully you get through the rough days and there’s a better day around the corner,” Matt told KCRG.

Nora is getting stronger at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, while Gabriel is at Unity Point Health St. Luke’s. Their parents have made the new Family Room their home away from home. Emily said doctors determined an infection caused her to go into labor early. The twins should be able to go home by April 6, which was their original due date.

By Jill Kasperie, KCRG-TV