• Giving Back

When There’s No Place Like Home: Morgan Stanley House for GOSH

Out-of-town parents with seriously ill children at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital will now be able to stay at Morgan Stanley House nearby.

April was a happy baby, meeting all the milestones that besotted parents watch for. Yet April's mom Estelle had a nagging feeling that something was wrong. “She was quite small, and not putting on weight. But everyone assured me she was ok," she recalls. Her mother’s instinct rang true. At five months old, April had a heart attack and was rushed from her local hospital in Watford, to London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), an hour away, for specialist treatment. It turned out she had a deformed aortic valve, which meant April's next five months was spent in the intensive care unit, undergoing a series of heart surgeries. “April was put in an induced coma when we first arrived and she lost so much weight,” says Estelle. “It was awful, and we were told she might not make it.”

GOSH doctors deal with countless emergency child surgeries every year, and about half of their patient admissions live outside London. The hospital has accommodation for parents whose children are critically ill like April, and need to be on call around the clock. But for the most part there are more out-of-town parents than there are beds.

April Grassi after heart surgery at GOSH.

That’s why Morgan Stanley House opened its doors in October. The terraced five-story Georgian home provides GOSH with accommodation for up to eight families and can be configured to fit families of different sizes. With a holistic notion of care in mind, designers also provided communal space in the form of a large, full kitchen and a lounge area, so families can regain some semblance of normalcy and support one another.

“To have a hub in a house where families can talk to each other and listen to each others' stories—that’s something we would have loved," says Estelle.

The opening of Morgan Stanley House marks a decade-long partnership between the firm and GOSH Children’s Charity. It follows the development of the state-of-the-art Morgan Stanley Clinical Building in 2012, and 2016’s Chelsea Flower Show rooftop garden for GOSH, sponsored by the firm and designed by Chris Beardshaw.

“Volunteering and supporting Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity is a well entrenched tradition for our employees,” says Clare Woodman, global chief operating officer for Morgan Stanley’s Institutional Securities Group. “It gives all of us an incredible sense of worth to know we’re helping critically ill children and their families feel better in some way.”

Although Estelle would like to say that she’ll never need to stay at Morgan Stanley House, chances are that she will. April, now five, still needs six-monthly checkups and will soon need to replace transplanted heart valves that have kept up with her love of dance.

“April loves to entertain people," Estelle says. “When she dances, we have to watch. She's a little star."

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