Host Family Guidelines

Welcome to Rotary District 7230 Gift of Life program. You are joining a dynamic world wide community of Rotarian and non-Rotarian families, dedicated to the service of assisting children who are in need of corrective heart surgery. With your kindness and contribution, GOL is making a lasting and loving impact on families throughout the world. We will soon reach 12000 in the number of children who are now living healthy normal lives. This gift of service begins when the child, with or without family, arrives at the airport. A GOL hospital coordinator or your club coordinator will accompany you to pickup the family. Please bring the sign showing a heart and “Welcome”.

Only a few people should meet the family at this time. The child may be over-exhausted from travel. It is, however, appropriate to begin taking pictures to share at a later date. Most children stay with the family for 3-6 weeks. However, each child is different and has a different health situation. The stay might be shorter, or might be considerably longer. Once at home, the child will need to rest. It is helpful to keep a quiet atmosphere in the household. Visitors should be kept to a minimum during this initial period.

The family will most likely want to call home. The guest family is in a strange land at a very stressful time in their life. The phone might seem like a lifeline to them. Keeping their immediate family abreast of all developments is helpful to all concerned. However, keep in mind the expense of calling and set a reasonable time for routine calls.

In the event of an emergency where the patient cannot be transported to the assigned hospital, The host family should not hesitate to call the assigned hospital and club coordinator. Advise the emergency physician of any update information available including the name and phone number of the hospital and physician who will do or has done the surgery. The medical professionals are the best source for information or instructions for the care of the child. Contact your hospital coordinator if you have any questions.

Care of the child and support for his/her family is a 7 day 24 hour responsibility. This is a club project and the host family should let other members know when help is needed. Private time for the host family is important. Situations may occur where the host family has other obligations and should not hesitate to ask other club members to “visit” with the guest family. Keep in mind that this is a rotary club project and all members should share the chores involved. When checking in at the hospital, make sure that you specify to the hospital that all billing will be done to the Gift of Life program of Rotary District 7230. They may ask for your phone number and address for contact information, but please ask that they do not use it as a billing address. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to call.

Communication between the medical staff, patient and family is extremely important. A translator, who is comfortable conversing with the physicians, should accompany the family on all hospital visits. The host club should make arrangements with one or more persons for this service. The GOL Committee has a list of translators available and will assist with scheduling. We encourage you to reach out to your local community in finding translators. Often our program will be their first introduction to Rotary and may interest them to join a club.

The Rotary GOL hospital coordinator makes the arrangements for the initial hospital visit. The child will have a physical examination, heart cauterization, and pending the outcome, may be admitted the same day. Emotional support from the host family is most important at this time. Club members should stagger their visits and keep them short. Be aware of other patients in the same room as our child. Transportation and visitation time become important factors during the hospital stay. The sponsoring club members should take on this responsibility. Keep handy telephone contact numbers of the drivers, translators, and support people. Spiritual support is essential to the well being of the child and family. Clergy of their choice should be contacted and be available for service. Cultural associations in the local area are also a wonderful source of emotional well-being.

The Sponsoring club should set aside funds ($500-$1,000) to pay for food, tolls, parking, gas, telephone, gifts and other expenses. These funds defray the daily cost of hosting the family. You may also expect to incur additional expenses for in hospital meals and other minor expenses. This is your host club’s responsibility. Invoices will be mailed to the club as the GOL committee receives them. Often special foods add a warm touch to the guest family’s stay. Local touring may be appropriate when the child is physically strong and/or for the parent while the child is still recuperating in the hospital. Discuss this with the club chairperson. After recuperation, the child and/or family may visit with other club members or friends. When possible, the family is encouraged to attend Rotary meetings and the district Gift of Life committee meeting. Daily excursions are encouraged when healthfully prudent. Do not allow the child to become over tired. A final physical examination will take place within one or two weeks of surgery. The child and family will then be cleared to return to their native country. All farewell activities should be completed before the departure day. Departure day is heart wrenching … a member of your family is leaving.

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