Creating Space: How a New Family Care Room Helps Grieving Families

May 15, 2024
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When you enter the new Family Care Room, you feel as if you’re in someone’s home. The walls are painted a calming shade of blue, the furniture is lightly colored and set up like a nursery, and the décor is soft and peaceful.Family Care Room in the Davis NICU at Baystate Medical Center.

And, all of this was intentional.

Thanks to a generous gift from Alicia’s Angels, the redesigned Family Care Room will provide families that have a baby who passes away while in the Davis Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with a home-like environment to create memories privately.

Founded by Jona Sager, a neonatal intensive care unit nurse, Alicia’s Angels supports the creation of these types of spaces in hospitals to provide families a warm and comfortable environment to say goodbye to their newborns outside of the medical environment.

“It is so important for families to have these moments with their child. Other than love, memories are the greatest gift we can give to another human being, and environment really affects those memories,” shared Jona. “Some families don’t have the chance to take their baby home and create those memories in the home environment they imagined. This space helps them have a bit of that comfort within the hospital.”

Founder of Alicia's Angels, Jona Sager, sits on a bed in the Family Care Room in the Davis NICU at Baystate Medical Center.

Jona was inspired to create Alicia’s Angels after the loss of her own daughter, Alicia Marie, 40 years ago. Her personal experience and her role as a NICU nurse shed light on a great need for this type of space within hospitals. Along with her hardworking team of volunteers, Jona has been able to create these evidence-based, homelike spaces in two other hospitals, with Baystate Children’s Hospital being the third.

“I wanted to be able to do more when there was nothing more medically we could do,” added Sager.

This need was evident to Erica Harp, inpatient pediatric palliative care nurse at Baystate Children’s Hospital, as well. She spearheaded this initiative, working with Alicia’s Angels, the team in the Davis NICU, and Baystate Health Foundation to make this space a reality.

Erica’s insight was critical on every component of the project, from concept to fabric colors. Each decision was based on research to ensure the space met the needs of families, created a calming environment, and could be functional for times outside of a family losing a child, accommodating those parents and loved ones who may just need a quiet moment to themselves outside of the busy Davis NICU.

“My ultimate dream was to create a space for bereaved families in the Davis NICU that was separate from the beeping of monitors, the crying of other babies, and the general bustle of an intensive care unit setting,” said Erica. “These parents will never have another time to be with their child in a home-like environment, but now we can help to give them that space.”

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