ROCKVILLE, Md., Jan. 19, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Navy sailor Nathan Chandler and his wife, Erica, were preparing to greet their first child when, at just over 35 weeks, they learned that they would need an emergency C-section. This premature birth would make a long stay in the neonatal intensive care unit at the hospital necessary.
At first, they paid out of pocket to stay at a hotel about 20 minutes from the hospital. They were hoping to take their newborn, Henry, home quickly, but learned that he was sometimes ceasing to breath while feeding or traveling in a car seat.
After they learned they would be staying a little longer, they took the advice of a case worker to use Fisher House Foundation’s Hotel for Heroes program.
“I like to think I’m pretty proud, and it sounded like charity, so I refused it in the beginning,” Nathan said. “Then I realized this could be a big help. We’d be literally down the street from the hospital, and it would take off one less stressful thing. Especially with having a baby in the NICU, commuting long distances, wife recovering from a C-section. It was pretty stressful.”
All the emotions of having a premature baby, recovering from an emergency C-section, and being away from family hit Erica all at once as they switched hotels.
“The hotel we had paid for, we were 20 minutes away,” Erica said. “The hotel we got from [Fisher House], we were 30 seconds away. It was amazing. And the staff at the hotel, on day one, I had gotten a room and check-in was at, I think 3, and I called the hotel at noon, crying because I was so tired. And the woman was like, ‘Honey, come now. We have a room for you. Just come.’ They didn’t care that we were early. She even had a nice setup for me in the room with water and snacks.”
Erica and Nathan worked together in those tough, early days of caring for a premature baby.
“I think our marriage at that point kind of took a back burner to a degree,” Erica said. “And I think that we both just focused on getting our son home. At that point we kind of looked at it as a team and when one person couldn’t handle it anymore, we’d switch. Nathan, if he just hit a wall and couldn’t do it anymore, then I jump in and I take over. And when I hit that wall, he would jump in and take over.”
Henry is sleeping and eating safely now, and the family is enjoying their time at home. They did wish that they could make one change, though.
“Part of me wishes we had learned about Fisher House earlier.”
Fisher House Foundation is best known for its network of 94 comfort homes where military and veteran families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving treatment. These homes are located at major military and VA medical centers nationwide, and in Europe, close to the medical center or hospital they serve. Fisher Houses have up to 21 suites, with private bedrooms and baths. Families share a common kitchen, laundry facilities, a warm dining room and an inviting living room. Fisher House Foundation ensures that there is never a lodging fee. Since inception, the program has saved military and veteran families an estimated $547 million in out-of-pocket costs for lodging and transportation.
Fisher House Foundation also operates the Hero Miles Program, using donated frequent flyer miles to bring family members to the bedside of injured service members as well as the Hotels for Heroes program using donated hotel points to allow family members to stay at hotels near medical centers without charge. The Foundation also manages an awards program recognizing programs that support military and veteran communities and scholarship funds for military children, spouses, and children of fallen and disabled veterans.
For more information about Fisher House Foundation, please go to www.fisherhouse.org.
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SOURCE Fisher House Foundation