Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkoma officially broke ground Dec. 16 on its new Ronald McDonald House at Mercy Fort Smith.
The new facility will help Mercy serve parents whose infants are served by the neonatal intensive care unit at the hospital. Along with the Ronald McDonald Family Room already in the hospital, the new house will provide space for 11 additional families, bringing the total number of families served at Mercy Fort Smith to 15. Plans call for a playground and serenity garden at the new house, which is scheduled to open in late August 2021.
“We are so grateful for this partnership and how it supports family-centered care,” said Mercy Fort Smith Hospital President Ryan Gehrig. “Dr. (Andrew) Riche’ is here in the audience, and he can say better than anyone just the value of having parents involved in their child’s healing process. It’s truly immeasurable.”
Gehrig said having the Ronald McDonald House at Mercy Fort Smith – and so close to parents in need – is valuable to the community as a whole. He offered thanks to “everyone who made this dream a reality.”
“It’s going to be just a beautiful addition to our campus as well,” he said.
Stephanie Medford, president and CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkoma, said the group’s mission is to “find, create and support programs to improve the health and well-being of children in western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma.
“We do this by keeping families close,” she said. “We provide them with hope, a sense of normalcy, the opportunity to find and give support to other families in the same situation, plus access to their child’s care team, and ultimately, close access to their child.”