For children leaving the hospital with intensive medical conditions, returning home to normalcy can be a challenge. That’s where Almost Home Kids comes into play.
“Almost Home Kids is a children’s community-based healthcare center, very unique to Illinois, where we provide transitional respite care. Basically, children who are coming out of PICU units, NICU units, intensive care units of hospitals, they’re on their way, transitioning home who are medically fragile, medically complex,” said Debbie Grisko, President and Executive Director of Almost Home Kids.
For up to 120 days, the team at Almost Home Kids works with children and their families to set the child up with medical equipment and nurses in order to help meet their health needs at home.
But before the children leave, they have the chance to experience the newest addition to the facility.
“It’s a memorial garden, actually, in honor of my parents Margaret and Tom Curran. The memorial is from after they both passed away, was used to provide the groundwork here for the garden. As you can see, it’s just a beautiful sanctuary for our parents and for our children to be outside. That serenity and peacefulness, and just adding that extra beauty of nature, which they loved so much,” said Grisko.
Almost Home Kids’ new healing garden has helped even the youngest of children find peace and comfort in their transition back home.
“I like to bring some kids out here, and it’s just a moment to help normalize the environment, it gives them an opportunity to just enjoy being outside because being in a medical setting, you don’t get those opportunities very often. So being able to come out to the garden, listen to the water fountain, hearing the wind and the trees and taking in that fresh air is just so important to help promote that normalcy for them,” said Kari Bartelson, Child Life Specialist at Almost Home Kids.
The garden features oversized metal flowers, kite sculptures, a deer and a fountain, all simple works of art, but ones that can make a big difference to a child with special medical needs.
“It gives them an opportunity to come outside. It’s not just a bench, it’s a space that has been created for them. It’s just an opportunity to be a family, not inside, but they can be a family out here,” said Bartelson.
Almost Home Kids plans to add more to the garden with the help of donors. If you’d like to donate and write an inspirational message on a brick in the garden, visit their website, almosthomekids.org.
Naperville News 17’s Alyssa Bochenek reports.
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