My wife and I had an opportunity to experience the amazing services that the Ronald McDonald House provides to families with children under hospital care. Their mission is to create, find, and support programs that directly improve the health and well-being of children and their families, and they don’t fall short when it comes to following through.
(TL;DR? Skip ahead to the photos, but come back afterwards!)
Due to complications at birth, our daughter was faced with an extended stay (about 2 weeks) at the Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, New York. My wife was released from the hospital after only a few days, but after an emergency cesarean section, she could not get back and forth from our home to the hospital to visit our child without assistance.
I had just started working a new job, so I didn’t have any personal time, and wasn’t yet eligible for FMLA. I arranged a bit of time off, but it didn’t cover the entire time of our daughter’s hospital stay. Additionally, the commute was over 60 miles from our home, causing me to lose 3-4 hours of time due to my commute. That was 3-4 hours I couldn’t spend with my daughter in the hospital.
The social worker in the hospital told us about, and submitted an application for us to stay at the Ronald McDonald House, located adjacent to the hospital. We were accepted and headed next door to find out about the wonderful services and experiences that RMH could provide.
Thanks to the Ronald McDonald House, my wife and I were able to be there with our daughter and take part in her treatments and care while in the NICU. My wife spent every day with her, and with my reduced commute (It was much closer than home) I would get back earlier and could stay up later with them. I feel without this opportunity, I would only have time to stop in for a bit, probably less than an hour, before I had to head home to get some sleep for the next day.
RMH provides housing, meals, local services, and a sense of community for families going through tough times with their children going through both short term and long term medical care. Some people, like us, are local and have the relief of knowing they can be nearby. Others have traveled from cities around the world, and wouldn’t be able to get the care they need if they had to cover the travel and housing costs. The suggested donation they request is a mere fraction of what it would cost to stay in a hotel, and they give you so much more than just a room.
Our daughter is home, and has been doing great ever since she was discharged from the hospital, and since we checked out of the RMH. If you never need them, please consider donating money, goods or even your time to the Ronald McDonald House as a majority of their program is run by volunteers. Even your change at the McDonald’s registers will help. If you do have to take advantage of their services, I encourage you to consider what goes in to the services you received, and return that support in any way you can to help their cause. Many people can’t afford what they’re asking, yet they are still welcomed with open arms and hearts.
And now for a little tour…
Click on the photos to see them larger.
When you enter the Ronald McDonald House, you’re welcomed with an elaborate “dollhouse” styled living room. Comfortable enough for any adult, but bright enough to light up a smile on any child’s face.
The main floor contains community dining rooms and kitchens. Every resident gets a private pantry and space in one of the many refrigerators as well as access to the community pantry/fridge. The kitchens are fully stocked with pots and pans, cooking utensils, cutlery, dishes and silverware. While meals are sometimes donated or prepared by volunteers, residents are able to cook on their own.
The main level also features community spaces (inside and outside) where families can gather. Aside from the community room and the Mets themed TV room shown here, the house features a gym, meditation room, private phone room, and children’s play room.
Each floor of the five level tower had a uniquely decorated common area. The floor we stayed on had an underwater theme, and featured full wall murals showing fish, turtles and other underwater sea-life.
Like the common areas, every room is decorated by a different designer and has a unique theme. While the common areas were easy to go around and photograph, I was only able to take photos in our own room. If anybody has photos of the other rooms, please share links in the comments. Our room had a story book theme, and had small pamphlets with the story of a boy who traveled across the land to befriend the monsters.