Providing a Home-Away-From-Home for Families of Loved Ones Treated at the NIH Clinical Center

FNIH client Julie Gattini and her son

Paul and Julie Gattini came to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center, the nation's premier clinical research hospital in Bethesda, MD, when Paul needed his second kidney removed. While Paul would remain at the hospital for several days, he worried about Julie. “His biggest concern was not for himself, but for me,” Julie recalled. “Where would I stay?”

Instead of navigating the hectic D.C. suburb, Julie was able to stay close to Paul at the Edmond J. Safra Family Lodge (Family Lodge), located just steps away from the NIH Clinical Center. The Family Lodge was established more than a decade ago thanks to a partnership among the NIH, the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) and generous private-sector donors. Built with private funds raised by the FNIH, its doors opened in 2005 to provide a “home-away-from-home” for families and caregivers of patients receiving treatment at the NIH Clinical Center, at no cost to them. For most patients, participating in medical research at the NIH Clinical Center is their last chance to find a new, potentially life-saving drug or therapy to fight their disease. During this particularly difficult and stressful time, the Family Lodge provides a place for peace and fellowship.

“We felt blessed and it was such a relief for him and me. Now we could concentrate on his surgery and recovery,” Julie said. “Every morning I would come into the Family Lodge’s beautiful kitchen and have a blueberry bagel, cup of tea and be on my way to be with my husband. I stayed with him from around 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. each day.”    

The Family Lodge features 34 private guest rooms, business and fitness centers, a library, renovated kitchen, social areas and a healing garden. In this comfortable setting, Julie met the wife of another patient undergoing treatment at the NIH Clinical Center and shared moments of unexpected friendship.  “We were able to just walk across the road, in the dark, without any fear,” Julie reflected. “I would come ‘home’ to the Family Lodge. It was my home for 10 days.”

To date, the Family Lodge has hosted more than 110,000 room nights for families from all 50 states and six continents. You can help families like Julie and Paul stay close together during times of medical treatment by donating to the FNIH today. Click here to learn more.  

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