Ross family opens respite care center

By Lora Chance - email

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The Family Respite Care Center at Memorial University Medical Center opened Thursday.

The new center is the vision of Rusty and Coren Ross. Their 19-year-old daughter, Jennifer Ross, was shot Christmas Eve 2005 in Savannah's Orleans Square. Ross died at Memorial University Medical Center a short time later.

"The experience we had while we were there was just so remarkable but we were part of the Memorial at that time. We had amazing access to the surgeons, physicians and the nursing staff who were caring for Jennifer. We realized that was something that wasn't readily available to everybody else who was there," said Coren Ross. "I just saw so many people who were crammed into a very tiny, uncomfortable living space, upright chairs, saving places for one another so somebody could run to the bathroom, go out, get a candy bar or something to eat."

The Ross's brought their idea for a respite space for families to officials at Memorial University Medical Center.

"There was a space in the hospital that is in between the intensive care units and that space was marked out to about 6,000 square feet," said Coren Ross. "We were able with the help of an awful lot of wonderful people starting with the hospital staff, Jim Turner who stepped forward and said what can I do to give you a hand."

The center will provide family members of trauma victims and critically ill patients a comfortable, private and safe space.

"We are so grateful that all of this came together and so glad that other families that were affected the way we were will now have a special place to rest and regain their own energies and move forward," said Coren Ross.

The Family Respite Care Center will also provide essential services, staff and doctor-family communication devices.

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