The importance of family connection this holiday season, even in the hospital | By Nick Holekamp, MD

For the majority of us, the holiday season means time at home with family. But for our patients with complex medical conditions, most cannot go home to celebrate.

That’s why at this time of year, I always think about the importance of family togetherness.

Family time is critical for a child’s development and the truth is the healthcare industry can do a lot to improve family connection when a loved one is in the hospital.

Why is family time so important for kids?

There are many studies that show family connection is one of the most important things in a child’s development. In 2022, for instance, researchers at Columbia University found adolescents with strong family bonds were more likely to thrive.

When a child is in the hospital for a prolonged period of time, though, it’s harder to facilitate that family connection. There are barriers like the time and expense of travel and accommodation, and making time for other children in the family.

What hospitals can do now

If I could design the perfect hospital of the future, it would have a child’s hospital room with a home for the family attached. That way the child could get the care they need but spend quality time with their family daily.

However, I know that is a big ask and we can’t redesign every hospital, or move an entire hospital into a family’s home.

So my holiday wish this year is that the global pediatric medical community puts more resources and research into improving the family connection now, particularly for their youngest patients.

At Ranken Jordan, we put on events for our patients’ families, such as our annual Santa for Siblings event. Our unique Care Beyond the Bedside approach encourages patients to get out of their hospital rooms every day, so the event allows patients to leave their room with their families and visit Santa in his “workshop.” Santa also rounds the hospital so it’s a special day that our patients and their families can enjoy together.

Our hospital is also unique because we have an indoor and outdoor playground, a baseball field, and a merry-go-round, all of which are appealing for our patients’ brothers and sisters, encouraging sibling connection.

While I’m proud of the family-inclusive environment we’ve created, I hope we can someday create a healthcare environment where the family is able to play a central role in their child’s recovery. I wish that not just for Ranken Jordan patients, but for all pediatric patients.

How you can help

If you feel moved to help children who are in the hospital this December, I’d like to suggest three options:

  • If you want to support Ranken Jordan families, I encourage you to purchase an item off our Amazon Wish List, where parents make requests for items their child needs.
  • Donate directly to Ranken Jordan to help us improve the quality of life for all of our patients every day.
  • Help us in our goal to spark more innovation in pediatric care by sharing our recent peer-reviewed research with more people in the medical community.

I wish everyone a happy, healthy holiday season and I encourage everyone to cherish this time with your family.

E-Newsletter Coming Soon!

Sign up today to subscribe and receive our upcoming e-newsletter.