BETHESDA, MD. (ABC7) — The Children's Inn at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) says dozens of families were displaced after a crack was found in the ceiling last week. CEO, Jennie Lucca, says they were forced to close and evacuate more than 45 families out of precaution.
All of the families who are staying at Children's Inn are going through treatment at NIH or rare clinical trials.
The Inn is free of cost to them and helps so they can focus on treatment rather than housing. "Each and every day we provide meals, education, therapeutic programming. For families who might be having financial difficulty, we are able to offer financial support as well. It's all of those things that come naturally to us everyday, lodging, food, comfort, emotional well being."
As of Wednesday, more than half of the building is roped off and under construction. Late last week, they were able to open a portion of the building to staff and 23 families. However, Lucca says they are providing shelter for an additional 55 families that are displaced from the Inn.
Amber Negrete, 8, is participating in a clinical trial for giant axonal neuropathy (GAN), a rare genetic disorder. Her father, Miguel, says it's so rare that there are less than 100 cases around the world.
As of now, there is no cure. Negrete is part of a clinical trial at NIH. Since her family is based in San Jose, CA - they are staying at the Children's Inn while she undergoes clinical trials.
The Negrete's were one of the families temporarily displaced. "Without Children's Inn supporting us and doing what they do for us, I don't think any of this would have been possible for us to come over here. The reason why I say that is because I have to stop working, if I don't work ,then there's no income" said Negrete.
Amber tells ABC7 she loves the therapy dog, Zilly, and making new friends at the Inn. For now, she doesn't have many places to play while the building is closed off. This is the case for many families.
Lucca says they are getting by but still need help from the community. The Inn has set up an emergency fund and a wish list.
Donors are being welcomed to help with funding or meals. "We're trying to think about how we can continue to provide the breakfast and keep the food safe. We need to think about how we will sustain over the next few months" explained Lucca. "Our biggest need is financial donations to cover the costs of the apartments in the community. We have to stock the apartments and get them outfitted with supplies."
It's unclear how long the building will be under construction. Lucca estimates it could take months until they are able to move back into the main building.