Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is our Nurse to Patient ratio?
We always keep patient safety in mind, our goal is that your child’s nurse will have two other patients, however at times; they may have one or three other patients.
Can I cook my food here?
We do not have a stove, due to fire safety. You can use the toaster oven or microwave. Most families bring dishes already prepared at home, frozen meals, canned meals, in Chicago they can also use the RMDH 3rd floor kitchen if we make a referral for them to the RMDH and their referral is accepted.
What if my child needs something and no one is in the room?
All children staying at AHK are kept on pulse oximetry, with alarms set when they are unattended or asleep. If their nurse is in another room, another staff member such as a nurse’s aide and or clinical manager will respond to alarms and patient calls.
How long can my child stay here (both transition and respite)?
This is evaluated case by case, depending on your family’s goals. Respite is a short stay (up to two weeks per year), with Transitional care we really focus on training you on your child’s care and making sure you have all the right resources set up in your home before you leave, such as private duty nursing (up to 120 days).
Can I sleep over?
We have a parent suite in Naperville, however in general our rooms are not private; and it is likely your child have a roommate. We try to maintain your child’s privacy and safety. This is something we evaluate case by case, and depending on our census. We do ask Caregivers to stay for two 24 hours stays once training is completed to carry out care independently. If not being able to stay overnight is a concern to you, this is something we can discuss further as admission gets closer.
Can I call overnight?
Absolutely, our nurses are available to take your call 24/7.
What is your greatest need?
An unrestricted dollar is the hardest to raise, but unrestricted dollars gives us flexibility to respond to each child’s needs as they present themselves. The most common request is for respite care for our families. Being able to provide them with temporary relief from caregiving is at the core of our mission.
What does it cost to raise a dollar?
86 cents of every dollar goes directly to support the children and their families. Thus, it costs us .14 cents to raise a dollar.
How do I get involved?
Contact Lisa Snow at lsnow@AlmostHomeKids.org to find out the best way you can help Almost Home Kids.
Do Volunteers need to have annual TB tests and Flu shots?
Yes, we do not ask anything more of our volunteers than we ask of our employees. Every volunteer needs to have documentation of a current (within the last 12 months) negative TB test; as well as documentation of a Seasonal Flu shot during the months of November 1st to May 1st.
Do you accept In-Kind donations?
Yes, we welcome In-Kind donations! Please see our Donate Supplies list.
How do I register on-line for a Volunteer Orientation?
You register for a Volunteer Orientation by emailing the Community Outreach Coordinator; Lisa Snow at lsnow@AlmostHomeKids.org
Our clinical staff members have their own expertise in certain areas. Here is a handy guide to help you connect with the best person to assist you.
Direct phone line to nursing staff:
312-229-0170 option 2
Direct phone line to nursing staff:
630-271-9155 option 2
Director of Case Management
To refer a child or learn more about our clinical programs:
Layenie Anderson: (630) 271-9155 ext 110
Patient Care Operations Manager
If your child is at AHK, and you have questions about your child’s stay, please contact our Patient Care Operations Managers.
Amy Alvarez (Chicago): 312.229.0170 option 1
Tim Kalas (Naperville): 630-271-9155 option 2
If your child is at AHK, or is planning to come to AHK, and you have questions related to your child clinical care, including appointments and contacting the Medical Director, please contact our Case Managers: 312.229.0170 option 2
Any questions regarding community support should be directed to our Social Workers: 312.229-0170, opt 2
Child Life Specialist
Any questions related to appropriate play or helping siblings adjust to scary or unknown situations related to your child’s medical condition should be directed to the Child Life Specialist: 630.271-9155
Medical Director, Director of Nursing & Advanced Practice Nurse (APN)
Our Medical Team participate on Medical Rounds twice a week, and are on call 24/7. Please contact your Case Manager if you would like to set up a meeting with the Medical Director or Director of Nursing, or if you would like to know the rounding schedule.
Maria Ragusa, APN (Chicago and Naperville): (630) 271-9155 ext 136
Abigail Riley, APN (Chicago): 312-229-0170 ext 250
Director of Nursing – April Alexander, MBA, BSN, RN
April began her nursing career at Advocate Children’s Hospital as a Pediatric ICU Staff Nurse in 1999 and has had an impressive and varied career that has included Pediatric Urology Nurse Specialist, Pediatric Ambulatory Staff Nurse and Clinical Coordinator at Loyola University Medical Center and Client Services Manager at the Joint Commission Resources. Most recently April has been the Manager of Patient Care Operations at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, a position she has held since 2009. April’s background in nursing and business, combined with her leadership skills, will be invaluable to Almost Home Kids as she directs AHK’s clinical programs and supervises our clinical leadership, nursing staff, child life specialist, and ancillary support staff at both locations.
April received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a Master of Business Administration, with a concentration in Healthcare Management at Loyola University, Chicago.
Director of Case Management – Layenie Anderson, RN
Layenie came to Almost Home Kids in July 2007, from Scotland where she worked as a staff nurse in Neurology and Neurosurgery at The Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh. Her career began in the children’s ward of Perth Royal Infirmary where she gained a strong foundation in general, medical and surgical pediatrics. She attended Napier University in Edinburgh, focusing on pediatric nurse training; She recently completed a BA in Applied Behavioral Science at National Louis University. Layenie is certified in Pediatric Advanced Life Support.
At Almost Home Kids, Layenie coordinates the case management and social work teams at the Naperville and Chicago locations, striving for a successful respite or transitional stay for every child. She acts as a liaison between several area hospitals, to ensure a smooth transition from the hospital to Almost Home Kids.
AHK Chicago – Medical Director – Peter J. Smith, MD, MA
The medical director for AHK Chicago is Peter J. Smith. Dr. Smith is currently an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Chicago. He is board certified in two subspecialties of pediatrics, Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (NDD) and Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics (DBP), as well as General Pediatrics. Dr. Smith also has Master’s Degree in Ethics and is a faculty member of the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago.
Dr. Smith’s direct clinical service has included both inpatient care (he is former Chief of the Medical Staff at La Rabida Children’s Hospital), work in residential schools, and outpatient clinics. He is respected by both families and colleagues as a hard-working and passionate advocate for children with complex medical needs. Within the region, Dr. Smith has held several leadership positions. Dr. Smith has served on the AHK Board of Directors since 2007. He has served on both of the Committees of the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (ICAAP) related to children with complex medical concerns, and he chaired one of these committees, the Committee on Children with Disabilities. He also has served on the ICAAP Committee on Bioethics and currently serves as the Chair of that committee.
Nationally, Dr. Smith serves on the Board of Directors for the American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) and is involved in developing national standards for the healthcare of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Dr. Smith is also a teacher and scholar. He started and directed the first training program in the Midwest for pediatricians who want to become experts in the care of children with developmental and behavioral difficulties. Dr. Smith’s scholarship has focused upon the ethics of care for children with special needs as well as the training of doctors to care for this growing population. He has authored multiple articles in scientific journals and chapters in the textbooks used by specialists in this field. Dr. Smith is a frequent presenter at the national scientific meetings as well as at formal educational programs for doctors.
Most importantly, Dr. Smith is one of the most respected doctors in this field in Illinois, and AHK anticipates that he will use his extensive network to help the children that he will serve at AHK. Dr. Smith is known both for his passion and his persistence: we are excited that he will bring both to AHK.
AHK Naperville – Medical Director – Christopher Bender, MD
Dr. Bender became our Naperville Medical Director in July of 2015. Dr. Bender is a pediatrician in Darien, Illinois and is affiliated with Adventist Hinsdale Hospital. He received his medical degree from Rush Medical College of Rush University Medical Center and has been in practice for 7 years.
Dr. Bender has a strong background in caring for children with medical complexities and has worked extensively with coordination of care in both outpatient and inpatient settings over the years.
Dr. Bender received the Champion for Children Award – Outstanding Physician presented by the Illinois Division of Specialized Care for Children in 2013 and was recognized by the Patient-Centered Medical Home Recognition Program National Committee for Quality Assurance in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Dr. Bender lives in Western Springs with his wife and two sons.
AHK Chicago & AHK Naperville – Associate Medical Director – Ann B. Karch, M.D.
Dr. Ann Karch Serves as Associate Medical Director for both Chicago and Naperville. Dr. Karch is a board certified general pediatrician with a special interest in children with developmental disabilities stemming from college summer work at Easter Seals Camp Wawbeek in Wisconsin. She has been a member of the AHK Medical Advisory Committee since 2012. Dr. Karch earned her medical degree from the University of Wisconsin. She completed a residency in pediatrics at the University of Chicago where she subsequently served as Chief Resident in Pediatrics.
Dr. Karch has worked as a pediatrician in private practice and has had several opportunities to work as a pediatrician with international medical teams. She has volunteered with teams in Bolivia, the Philippines, and Kenya (all with the Diocese of Joliet Partnership in Mission); and with Operation Smile in the Philippines. Ann and her husband, Gary, live in Glen Ellyn, where they raised 3 sons.
AHK Naperville – Associate Medical Director and Chair of Medical Advisory Board – Michael T Hoffman, MD
Dr. Hoffman is a pediatrician and has been a member of the AH K Board and Chair of the Medical Advisory Committee since 2009. He is often called upon to give clinical support and has served as back up to the AHK Medical Directors on numerous occasions.
Dr. Hoffman has been a tireless advocate of Almost Home Kids and children with medical complexities and makes sure all of our children are current with their clinical care. Dr. Hoffman also volunteers his clinical expertise for the Diocese of Joliet Partnership in Mission, and through their program he travels to the Philippines with a group of pediatric specialists to give much needed clinical care to children in that country.
At the Elmhurst Hospital where he practices pediatrics, Dr. Hoffman’s philosophy of care is to maximize patient wellness by emphasizing preventative health and patient education and he believes in working together with parents as a team to serve the needs of their children. Mike, his wife Erica and their daughter live in St. Charles.
Medical Advisory Committee
The Medical Advisory Committee (MAC) is comprised of a group of dedicated medical professionals who work together to make a significant difference in the lives of the children at Almost Home Kids. The MAC is Chaired by Michael Hoffman, MD, Elmhurst Clinic, Pediatrician and AHK Associate Medical Director.
Almost Home Kids receives referrals from over 32 local, national and international children’s medical centers.
To receive the complete Clinical Referral Form, please email Layenie at firstname.lastname@example.org
Examples of admission criteria:
- Children, under age 22, may have special health care needs that require private duty nursing care or continuous medical monitoring.
- Children must be clinically stable and ready for discharge from hospital to home but home or caregivers are not able to receive the child.
- Respiratory support needs such as frequent suctioning, tracheostomy tube, or ventilator.
- Nutritional support needs such as gastrostomy tube feedings or hyperalimentation.
- Administration of antibiotics via PICC line or port-a-cath.
- Other medical issues that may cause safety concerns if the child is unattended.
- Parents/caregivers are in need of additional education, training and clinical support.
- Home nursing is not available.
- Home modifications are necessary before the child can safely return.
- Caregiver may have personal or emergency health care needs.
- Social circumstances may prevent the discharge to home.
Questions can be directed to:
Layenie Anderson, Director of Case Management
(630) 271-9155 ext 110
Parent/Caregiver Handbook: Almost Home Kids is the premier transitional & respite care program in the State of Illinois since 1999. Our mission is to provide transitional care in a home-like setting to children with complicated health needs, training for their families and respite care.
Our highly trained and qualified staff takes every measure to ensure we attend to every aspect of your child’s care. We understand that taking care of a child who is medically complex can be challenging, but we are here to help you every step of the way and get your child home as soon as possible.
We will provide you with a copy of the Parent/Caregiver Handbook during your tour of Almost Home Kids.