Arkansas’ first Ronald McDonald Family Room opens at St. Edward Mercy

December 8, 2010

Michael Hadley and Bill Mathews of

Ronald McDonald House Charities of

Arkoma and Dr. Victor Coloso and Jeff

Johnston of St. Edward Mercy join Ronald

McDonald in cutting the ribbon on the

new Ronald McDonald Family Room.

As home to the River Valley’s only Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), St. Edward Mercy admits about 1,000 newborns a year. Now the families of these babies have a place to rest and relax during the day while their child is admitted to the hospital. The Ronald McDonald Family Room also has four sleeping rooms to provide overnight accommodations for parents who live more than 30 miles away from Mercy to spend the night while their child is hospitalized. All of these services are at no cost to families.

A HOME AWAY FROM HOME

The Family Room is located just one floor above the NICU giving parents the comfort of being only a heartbeat away from their children.  The 2,500 square foot space includes a common living room, kitchen, reading room and bathrooms. Four separate sleeping rooms are available for overnight guests. Daytime visitors to the room will have access to television, internet and laundry facilities as well as meals and snacks in the kitchen. They’ll also be able to use bedrooms and bathrooms for naps and showers.

The room is staffed by a full-time program manager and six part-time program associates. Volunteers are also being sought to work one four-hour shift per week to help meet the needs of families using the room.

The family room is open from 9am-9pm for daytime guests. Overnight guests can check in from 5pm-8am.  It is open 365 days a year.

COMMUNITY SUPPORT

While McDonald’s is the largest corporate partner, RMHC of Arkoma is a separate non-profit corporation that relies on the community for the support of their mission.  Already the Fort Smith region has shown tremendous support for this project by donating approximately $175,000 of the $250,000 needed to cover the startup costs. Many groups have stepped forward with donations of toiletries and food pantry items to get the room off to a good start as well.

The family room will continually be looking for donations to replenish the toiletry supply and food pantry items.  They’re also looking to get churches, civic organizations, clubs and families to sign up to bring evening meals for the families using the room.

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