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Family Home is renamed to better reflect mission

by Rachel O'Neal | February 21, 2021 at 2:09 a.m.
Home for Healing, at 4300 W. Markham St., houses adult cancer patients and the parents of babies in intensive care. Formerly known as the Family Home of Little Rock, the house recently was renamed to better reflect its mission. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Cary Jenkins)

The name of the Family Home of Little Rock never was quite right. The home's logo featured two adults holding the hands of two children. But the home never allowed children.

The home's board of directors and its executive director recently changed the name to Home for Healing -- a new moniker that better reflects its mission of housing parents of babies in intensive care and adult cancer patients.

Emily Paul, a patient education specialist for women and infant services at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, is president of the Home for Healing board of directors. She knows first-hand what it is like to stay at the Family Home -- she recently spent a night there when she was worried she wouldn't be able to make it to work due to ice and snow.

"It's just wonderful," Paul said of her stay. "It is very quiet and peaceful. There's a meditation room that people can go into -- a prayer room, if you will. There's a common area down on the first floor where people can go and just kind of sit on couches. Obviously, things are restricted due to covid, but it is a really comfortable atmosphere."

The Family Home is at 4300 W. Markham St. -- within walking distance of UAMS. It houses cancer patients who are receiving out-patient treatment and live outside of a 50-mile radius of Little Rock and parents who have a baby in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). It serves patients and parents at UAMS, Arkansas Children's Hospital, CARTI and Baptist Health Medical Center. All guests must be referred by a social worker.

Guests are charged $15 a night but no one is turned away for the inability to pay. The 13,500-foot house has two guest wings: one has a kitchen, laundry and five bedrooms and baths for parents who have babies in the neonatal intensive care units. The other wing has two kitchens, laundry and 10 bedrooms and baths for patients receiving cancer treatment and their caregivers.

In 2019, the home hosted 240 patients and families. Because of covid-19 restrictions, the home currently is operating at 60% capacity and the number dropped in 2020 to 103 patients and families. About half the guests are from Arkansas and the rest are from outside the state.

"We have a high-risk pregnancy program at UAMS, so we get a lot of people who deliver here from the region," Paul said. "As far as cancer, [UAMS] is well known for multiple myeloma, so we get patients from all over the world and we've had dignitaries who stayed there."

She said some of the more affluent guests stay at the house because of its proximity to UAMS.

"When one of the dignitaries came and stayed, he actually ended up paying for everyone else who was staying at the home at the time," Paul said.

The house was built in 2003 and has housed more than 5,000 guests, including the parents of 59 sets of twins and nine sets of triplets. Guests have come from 35 states and seven countries.

One current guest is the mother of a child in intensive care and a cancer patient.

"Normally it's a cancer patient or a NICU mom but we have a woman right now who is both," Paul said. "She was diagnosed with cancer when she was pregnant, she delivered the baby early, so she has a baby in the NICU at UAMS and she's also seeking cancer treatments so she is going to be here a while."

Home for Healing is entirely dependent on donations and fundraisers to cover the cost, which is about $50 per room per day, much more than the $15 a day they charge guests, Paul said.

The organization hosts two fundraisers a year. A golf tournament is planned for April 23 at Country Club of Arkansas. Its annual Halloween costume party -- Monster Bash -- is scheduled for Oct. 29 at Next Level Events.

Kristin Trulock, executive director of Home for Healing, had planned to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the rechristening on Feb. 16. A snow storm postponed the event until 2 p.m. March 2 at the home.

More information about Home for Healing is available at homeforhealing.org.

Emily Paul, a patient education specialist for women and infant services at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, is president of the board of Home for Healing. She knows exactly what it is like staying at the facility — recently spending a snowy night there when she was worried she wouldn’t be able to get to work the next morning.
(Special to the Democrat-Gazette)
Emily Paul, a patient education specialist for women and infant services at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, is president of the board of Home for Healing. She knows exactly what it is like staying at the facility — recently spending a snowy night there when she was worried she wouldn’t be able to get to work the next morning. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette)
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