From Fraternity House to Peaceful Family Home
May 2, 2008
Children's Hospital Boston announced today it will begin construction on a new home-away-from-home for patient families. The home at 241 Kent Street in Brookline addresses the critical need for inexpensive housing for out-of-area patients and families during extended hospitalizations.
Families who bring their sick and injured kids to Children's come from across the country and world and from all walks of life. Many children have serious heart ailments, aggressive cancers, immune disorders and other rare diseases, and endure extensive hospitalizations.
"Long-term housing that provides a home-like environment helps families cope more comfortably with extended healthcare of their sick children," says Charles Weinstein, Children's vice president of real estate. "Boston's hotels can be too expensive for many of these families." Children's currently operates a 13-room house in a converted office building where patient families can stay at reduced cost or for free. The housing, however, is always full and the waiting list long. Too often, needy families like the Slone family from Connecticut are turned away.
|Left to right: Paul Bernon, Robert Zuker, Daniel Rottenberg, Michael Lorber, Susan Mulder, Jeffrey Bilezikian, Robert Greene, Ben Fischman, Douglass Karp, Roy MacDowell III, Paula Quan, Todd MacDowell, Pat and Kathleen Scanlon, Jason Weissman (missing from photo: Alex Leventhal)|
During the first 22 weeks of her pregnancy, Lori Slone never expected one of her twin daughters, Bella, would be diagnosed with a Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH). CDH occurs when a fetus' diaphragm does not fully develop, which allows abdominal organs to go into the chest, preventing normal lung development.
After the diagnosis, Lori researched the condition and found that Children's Hospital Boston was a leader in treating kids with CDH. In fact, the hospital's Advanced Fetal Care Center's (AFCC) survival rate is close to 90 percent, while the national average is only 50 percent. Shortly after her daughters Bella and Lily were born, Bella was transported to Children's and immediately placed on Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO), an advanced technology that replaces a critically ill child's heart and lungs. She was then placed on a ventilator for more than 4 months to help support her lungs.
Slone stayed at the hospital's patient family home through Bella's four surgeries and seven month stay in the Intensive Care Unit. The family, including husband Chris, son Christopher, and Lily, has been back-and-forth to Children's in Bella's eleven months of life due to infections and other appointments. Lori says that Bella would not have survived without the amazing care from her surgeon Dr. Jay Wilson, and the AFCC and the Intensive Care Unit nurses and staff.
Children's Hospital patient family Lori Slone and her daughter Lilly."We were so grateful to have a place to stay during Bella's long hospital stay," says Lori. "The opportunity to meet other families in a supportive environment gave us the strength to focus 100 percent of our energy on Bella as she healed. This new home will give more families a comforting place to stay without financial worry."
Children's goal is to renovate the historic Victorian home on Kent Street--located just blocks from the hospital---and provide a larger home for patients and families. The renovated home will feature 21 bedrooms, shared bathrooms, common areas, kitchen, dining area and playroom as well as space for staff.
The Next Generation Developers Task Force, a group of young real estate developers and businesspeople, expressed a desire to use their talents as well as social and professional networks to make this project a reality. Not only are many of these young men and women rising stars in their fields, they're also deeply committed to philanthropy and Children's Hospital. Each committee member brings his or her own expertise to the project. Children's and the Task Force aim to raise $10 million to fund the renovation and start an endowment.
"Our Task Force members are showing tremendous commitment and passion for this home-away-from-home," says Douglass Karp, Task Force chairman. "We've worked on all aspects of the project including contractor negotiations, landscaping, permitting, marketing, and fundraising. We hope our work inspires young professionals and others to make a contribution to this wonderful and comforting place for families."
Children's acquired the home from Phi Gamma Pi, a former fraternity at Northeastern University, which lost its charter in 2006.
"We're thrilled to be able to help Children's meet its goal of providing more housing to the patient families who need it most," says Gene Carozza, Treasurer, Phi Gamma Pi Alumni Association. "This gift enables us to leave a lasting legacy in Brookline while helping to advance our organization's mission of providing help to various philanthropic causes."
For more information or to donate, visit http://www.childrenshospital.org/kentstreet.
Founded in 1869 as a 20-bed hospital for children, Children's Hospital Boston today is the nation's leading pediatric medical center, the largest provider of health care to Massachusetts children, and the primary pediatric teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. In addition to 397 pediatric and adolescent inpatient beds and comprehensive outpatient programs, Children's houses the world's largest research enterprise based at a pediatric medical center, where its discoveries benefit both children and adults. More than 500 scientists, including eight members of the National Academy of Sciences, 11 members of the Institute of Medicine and 12 members of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute comprise Children's research community. For more information about the hospital visit: www.childrenshospital.org/newsroom.
History of the House at 241 Kent Street: The house was built in 1889 by Andrew Houghton and sits on a parcel of land containing 31,606 square feet. The architecture is characterized as the "Chateauesque Style"; Houghton also owned the A.J. Houghton Co. Vienna Brewery in Jamaica Plain, MA. The property was purchased by Phi Gamma Pi, a Northeastern Fraternity, in 1954. In 2007, Children's purchased the home from the fraternity, which lost its charter from Northeastern University in 2006. To ensure a positive legacy in Brookline, the fraternity's alumni members voted to sell the property to Children's at a reduced price. The Phi Gamma Pi Alumni Association intends to use the proceeds from the sale of the house to establish a philanthropic organization.