Des Moines is now home to the 10th Ronald McDonald House to be located in a hospital.
The new Ronald McDonald House at MercyOne Children’s Hospital, 1111 Sixth Ave, opens Tuesday morning. It’s expected the house will serve 750 families in 2020 who need overnight accommodations while their children receive medical care at the hospital.
“As a parent, being able to stay close, not to have to leave the facility and know that at any moment I can be at my child’s beside if I need to be — but I can also have some respite, a little break — is huge,” said Kathy Goetz, vice president of women’s and children’s services at MercyOne Children’s Hospital, at a ribbon-cutting Monday morning.
Officials expect to have a nearly full house on opening night.
The 14-bedroom facility, which takes up half of a floor at the hospital, is the second Ronald McDonald House in Des Moines. The first, built in 1981 and remodeled in 2017, is an 18-room house just west of Blank Children’s Hospital at 1441 Pleasant St. It served 555 families in 2019.
For 19 years, MercyOne Children’s Hospital has had a Ronald McDonald Family Room with three small sleep rooms, a kitchen and showers. But the organization knew it needed to provide more comfortable accommodations, said Dr. Cary Murphy, director of the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit and a Ronald McDonald board member.
The ribbon cutting for the new Ronald McDonald House at MercyOne ChildrenÕs Hospital Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. (Photo: Zach Boyden-Holmes/The Register)
Murphy said nearly two-thirds of families who received care at MercyOne and who qualified for a stay at the Ronald McDonald House didn’t use the service, likely because the house is a mile and a half from the hospital.
“We are so excited about the potential that we have for this facility,” Karl Keeler, president of MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center, said of the new facility.
The new facility cost $4 million. The money was raised solely by Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Iowa and its donors. Polk County contributed $50,000.
It has 14 overnight rooms, each with two full-sized beds, a sleeper sofa that pulls out into a twin-sized bed, two TVs, a full bathroom stocked with towels and personal hygiene items, and storage cabinets. There’s also a play room, laundry facilities, a lactation room, a great room, a kitchen and dining room, and four “day showers” for families who may not be staying the night but want to freshen up.
Volunteers cook daily meals for the families who stay there. There are two house managers and an overnight security team.
Any family with a child under age 21 receiving medical treatment can qualify to stay at the Ronald McDonald House. The patient’s doctor, social worker or nurse must provide a referral.
In the past, families could only qualify if they lived outside of Polk County. Now, with two facilities, the accommodations are open to anyone, said assistant house manager Kaitlyn Dew.
Families are asked to pay $10 a night, but payment is not required. The average stay is 11 nights.
“Once a family comes to stay with us, we hope to provide everything they need and they won’t need to go outside the walls,” said Brenda Miller, executive director of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Iowa. “They can just stay here, be near their child and be a part of the medical team to make those critical decisions that need to be made right away.”
The nonprofit Ronald McDonald House Charities operates 365 facilities in 64 countries and regions. In Iowa, there are also Ronald McDonald houses in Iowa City and Sioux City.
Kim Norvell covers growth and development for the Register. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 515-284-8259.
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