News Release

August 25, 2008

Contact: Chris DeFrancesco, 860-679-3914

Health Center Auxiliary Has Hotel Suite for NICU Families

New Option for Parents of Infants Requiring Neonatal Intensive Care

FARMINGTON, CONN. – When a child is born premature or with other health complications requiring intensive care, it can be weeks, even months, before the parents can take their new baby home.

When home is more than a short distance from the hospital, an already difficult situation becomes even more challenging, as parents who want to stay as close to their newborn as possible have to choose between driving back and forth every day and paying for a nearby hotel room.

Families of infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the University of Connecticut Health Center now have a third choice.

The UConn Health Center Auxiliary has a contract with the Homewood Suites on Farm Glen Boulevard in Farmington that sets aside a two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit exclusively for families in this situation, providing accommodations at no charge to the parents while their infant receives care at the Health Center NICU about a half-mile away. The amenities include complimentary meals, free shuttle service to and from the Health Center, wireless Internet, a heated pool, and an exercise room.

“Families with a baby in the NICU already have so much to deal with, so this can be one less thing for them to worry about,” says Irene Engel, facilitator of the UConn Health Center Auxiliary, which is paying $47,000 a year for the suite, known as The Family Place.

Many of the children in the Health Center’s NICU are transported from other hospitals. Such was the case with Mary Ntiri, a New York City resident who went into labor 15 weeks early while visiting a friend in Higganum. Her son, William, was born at Middlesex Hospital. The 1-pound, 7-ounce newborn immediately was brought to the UConn Health Center and has been there since June 15. After her discharge, Ntiri became The Family Place’s first occupant.

“It was a Godsend,” says Ntiri, who stayed in the suite for two weeks. “Otherwise, I don’t know how I would have done it.”

Jean Lattanzio, coordinator of the March of Dimes Neonatal Family Support Program at the Health Center, says the benefits of The Family Place go beyond the savings of money and time.

“There is so much that the parents need to learn about caring for their babies before taking them home,” Lattanzio says. “Having a place to stay, close by the NICU, enables them to be at the bedside participating in their babies’ care and learning about their needs.”

More information about the UConn Health Center Auxiliary is available at More information about the NICU is available at

Caption: Mary Ntiri of the Bronx, N.Y., with her son, William, in the UConn Health Center Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. William was born June 15, 15 weeks premature. He is pictured at 8 weeks old.

Note: To arrange an interview with Mary Ntiri or Irene Engel, contact Chris DeFrancesco, 860-679-3914 or

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