Heart Behind the House, Seeing Fisher House Through the Years
“Prior to the availability of Fisher Houses, we would offer our best advice to the families as to the nearest affordable accommodations,” Renz explained. “It wasn’t made with any prioritization, but simply the fact that we knew where local hotels were. Now, with our Fisher Houses so conveniently located, it’s just a walk of a few minutes for family to be by their loved one’s side.”
Four Fisher Houses, located at Brooke Army Medical Center, stay nearly full year-round. Some families are there for days; some for months, even years.
The benefits a Fisher House provides are easy to see – temporary, free lodging so families can be with their loved ones during a crisis. However, Dr. Renz is in a unique position to see many unforeseen benefits the Fisher House provides to families.
“Our society has changed. We observe people sitting in rooms with mobile devices, texting, typing away,” Renz said. “You may have 10 people in the waiting room, but none of them are talking. That doesn’t promote or inspire a lot of communication about what’s going on. At least at the Fisher House, during mealtime there’s a special opportunity to break down those barriers and have frank discussion.”
Another unforeseen benefit, is the fact that Dr. Renz and other doctors utilize the Fisher House as a tangible goal for patients.
“When we constructed our new facility, which you can see from the front door of the Fisher House, you’ll see the glass enclosed bridge between the old and new hospital,” Renz explained. “Imagine a seriously injured service member who spends many days or weeks in intensive care. As they start to recover, go outside of their room, and maybe make the transition through the bridge. It’s not uncommon to sit there and talk to the patient. We tell them you can see the Center For the Intrepid, and adjacent to that, the Fisher House. We are able to share with the patient their plan as they continue to recover, which includes the Fisher House, so it quite literally gives them a goal.”
Dr. Renz can recall visiting patients and families as they transitioned from the hospital to the Fisher House, and saw the capability of these comfort homes to allow the patients to continue their care with family by their side.
He sums up the benefits that Fisher Houses provide, with one last thought.
“Consider for a moment that the patients we receive here are in fact many of the most severely and critically injured patients from the war. By previous standards, most or many of them would not have survived these injuries,” Renz said. “We are now able to not only help these service members recover, but also to include their families. Because of Fisher House, the families can simply be called, meet their service member at the hospital and commence that journey together.”