Jennifer and Hazel Proffit

Jennifer used the Ronald McDonald Family Room as a way to stay connected with her family while her newborn daughter Hazel was fighting for her life in the PICU.

Jennifer Proffit was sitting in the emergency room at Children’s Hospital of Orange County at Mission watching the specialist whom she requested easily put an IV into her week-old child’s small vein when she came to a realization: “Oh my gosh, I’m going to have to be here all the time to be my child’s advocate.”

Jennifer and her newborn, Hazel, had rushed to the hospital after Hazel had stopped breathing less than a week after she was born. After being admitted to the hospital, Hazel would spend the first weeks of her young life fighting a respiratory infection in the PICU. Jennifer knew her time would be spent at her daughter’s side, but was relieved when another parent in the PICU mentioned the Ronald McDonald House Family Room. “I immediately thought ‘I can’t use the Ronald McDonald House Family room. My kid’s not that bad,"Jennifer said. But after two nights of restless sleep while monitors beeped away keeping Hazel mending, Jennifer realized that she did in fact need the room.“The only thing forcing me to look outside the situation were my other kids,” Jennifer said. “And in the Family Room, we were able to have dinner together, do homework together and be a real family.”

Jennifer and her husband Josh quickly became comfortable with the room and its staff, which Jennifer came to know as a second family. Hazel’s brother, Max, and sister, Audrey, also became regulars, so much so that Max still clings to the stuffed dog one of the volunteers took him to the gift shop to get. Hazel is now at home fully recovered, but Jennifer and her family are thankful for the time they spent in the Ronald McDonald House Family Room. “It felt like a family there,” Jennifer said. “A lot of great moments we had as this new family centered around the Ronald McDonald Family Room.”