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Center Offers Families Break from 24-7 Care of Life-Threatened Kids

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March 15, 2010

PHOENIX - Caring 24-7 for a child with a life-threatening condition can drive a family to the brink. One of the nation's first respite-care facilities for kids opens two weeks hence in central Phoenix. The executive director of the Ryan House facility, Nancy Martin, says families will get a needed break, while children will experience a homelike atmosphere.

"It means stimulating them, making them comfortable, giving them an opportunity to have a good time and be a child, instead of what they've been used to, which is mostly doctors and hospitals."

Martin says Ryan House will operate under a philosophy that emphasizes comfort and pain relief. Rooms are designed with extra beds for parents who want to be with their children. There are also separate rooms where families can stay.

Martin says the unrelenting pressure of caring for a child with a life-threatening condition has driven some parents to desperate measures.

"When they reach the end of their rope, when they're exhausted to the point of being sick, they just put the child in the car and take him or her to the emergency room, and they get a couple of hours break."

Martin says if necessary, Ryan House can provide end-of-life care as well.

"If those children come to the end of life and their parents choose to have them at Ryan House for whatever period of time it is, they're welcome to do that and they will receive hospice care here."

Martin says Ryan House is entirely supported through grants and donations.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ