Ryan House offers palliative care for kids, peace of mind for parents

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PHOENIX -- A ground-breaking facility has opened its doors in Phoenix. It's called The Board of Visitors Ryan House and it's a pediatric palliative-care home -- one of only two of its kind in the entire country.

The facility was inspired by Ryan Cotter, a little boy diagnosed with a genetic disease that requires around-the-clock care.

The idea is simple -- give parents who have kids living at home who need full-time medical care a much-needed break.

"They can stay for several days. They can stay for a week, two weeks -- whatever they need in order to take their children on vacation or just get some rest at home," explained Nancy Martin, executive director.

Martin says The Board of Visitors Ryan House offers parents a full medical staff so when they leave their children, they know they'll be well cared for 24 hours a day, seven days week.

Karrie and Jim Piersons will take their daughter Caroline to Ryan House.

Caroline's brain stopped developing at 20 weeks. She responds to her brother, her sister and her parents, but she also relies on them completely.

"There's nothing that Caroline can do independently," explained Karrie Pierson. "Changing diapers, showering, dressing, feeding -- all of the basic needs that need to be done. And then you throw in medications on different schedules and doctors appointment with all of the different specialists -- it's really very labor intensive."

Not only is the chance for a break incredible, the Piersons think Caroline will love what the facility offers.

There's a sensory room with lights, colors and sounds that any child would adore. Outside is a playground that's equipped for children with special needs. It was donated by the Phoenix Thunderbirds.

The eight bedrooms were painted by mural artists.

Ryan House offers parents the gift of a little time away from the daily responsibilities. "To think of having a break to nurture yourself, to have a date with your husband or a full night's sleep or go to Disneyland with your other kids, it's a gift," Piersons said. "It's a gift to this community to have this place."

Ryan House, which is supported solely by donations, celebrated its grand opening on Saturday.

To learn more about Ryan House, visit www.RyanHouse.org or call 602-200-0767.