Inn Welcomes Patients Families

June 1, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS — For years, Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital has had a hospitality arrangement with an area hotel to provide rooms at a reduced rate for families of patients and for outpatients who live more than 40 miles from town. These days they have the additional option of staying overnight on the hospital campus at the six-room Inn at Mary Free Bed.

Mary Free Bed built the inn strictly for the convenience of patients' families and for outpatients who need to come in for several consecutive days of rehab but live too far to make the trek daily, said Meg Derrer, director of marketing and public relations. The cost per room is $35 a night. 

The inn features six 576-square-foot rooms that are completely handicap accessible. Each room has a telephone, a flat-screen TV, wireless access, individually controlled temperature, a small refrigerator, sinks inside and outside the bathroom and a roll-in shower. The facilities include a breakfast and kitchen area with seating, as well as a sizable lounge with a computer workstation.

Families are always involved in their loved one's care at Mary Free Bed; that's nothing new, Derrer noted. In fact, to be admitted there, the family has to assure the hospital they will help and support the patient when he returns home. Family education is a huge part of the process, she said.

"It's very helpful for the patient's recovery that family members who used to have to drive long distances, and maybe could only be in Grand Rapids once or twice a week, can now stay for longer periods of time, because they can afford to stay here and they're right on campus."

Mary Nequist, assistant director of support services at Mary Free Bed, said families don't stay at the Inn for the entire duration of the patient's stay in the hospital, which can run six to eight weeks or more. Families more likely would stay at the inn for a few days leading up to the patient's discharge, and during that time they would learn how to take care of their loved one at home.

Mary Free Bed has a lot of outpatient programs that aren't offered elsewhere in West Michigan, and some that aren't offered elsewhere in the state. Patients often come from the east side of the state or from out of state, particularly for Mary Free Bed's driver rehab program, and stay for a week to get daily training, Derrer explained. 

Since its opening in late December, at least three or more rooms at the inn have been occupied each week, Nequist said. She said seven people can be accommodated comfortably in a single room, and rollaway beds and cribs are available, as well.

On occasions when the inn is full, families can take advantage of the hospitality arrangement Mary Free Bed has with a hotel in town, and the hospital will subsidize the room rate for those who qualify. The hospital also has a special rate deal with eight other area hotels but does not subsidize the room rate at those hotels.

"I think the price is very important to people," Nequist remarked. "The continental breakfast and the parking is free, too. It's been exciting and fun and rewarding just to hear comments from people about how they thoroughly enjoyed being able to stay here."

The Inn at Mary Free Bed takes reservations on a priority basis:

**Patients living more than 40 miles away and involved in an ongoing program with multiple days of treatment.

**Outpatients residing more than 40 miles away who are scheduled for early morning or late evening evaluations or treatment, or those being seen for high-frequency therapies.

**Families of inpatients residing more than 40 miles from Grand Rapids who are receiving family education, or pediatric patient families that are unable to use the Ronald McDonald House.

**Families of inpatients or outpatients who have to come to Mary Free Bed for services but reside more than 80 miles away and do not have transportation in Grand Rapids.    

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