Caroline’s Room is a peaceful refuge, a “comfort zone” for the growing number of families with babies in need of neonatal intensive care. It is a carefully and professionally designed waiting room/living room, furnished with elegant seating, lighting, and artwork. Preferably, it will also include medical monitoring capabilities. It is vital that the room be located in the NICU, where parents can readily strategize with doctors and other caregivers or hold family conferences. It is a place for quiet time when parents are asked to leave their child’s bedside, and it is where families can go for reflection, prayer, and counsel. In the case of impending death, it is where families can spend the last moments with their child in a dignified and private space that has a comforting sense of home.
The concept of Caroline’s Room is the inspiration of Jocelyn and Gary Doyens, who know firsthand the roller coaster of emotions that all NICU parents experience. Their daughter, Caroline Marie, was a patient in the Newborn Special Care Unit at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital, and after two months and one day, she lost her valiant battle to live. Jocelyn and Gary remember the anxious waiting and hushed conferences with caregivers in the hallway, and they will never forget being with Caroline as she died, with only a simple screen surrounding her isolette for privacy. After Caroline’s death, and with gratitude for the care that Caroline received, Jocelyn and Gary committed themselves to helping other parents who are in a similar time of profound crisis.
The existing Caroline’s Rooms are enthusiastically supported and endorsed by the parents, physicians, and nurses who have experienced and observed the benefits this space provides. In the words of one physician, "It is difficult to imagine how we managed before we had this outstanding facility.” The dream of the Caroline’s Room Fund is a day when there is a Caroline’s Room in every major neonatal intensive care unit in the country.