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Miracle Maker: Ronald McDonald House Charities

Outstanding Commitment by a Community Partner

Many families come to UR Medicine’s Golisano Children’s Hospital not knowing the length of their stay, often picking up their lives without question while the rest of their world keeps spinningRonald McDonald House around them. The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Rochester’s wonderful partnership with the children’s hospital helps ease this process and ensures families have a stable, comfortable environment with resources that truly make their stay feel more like a ‘home away from home.’

“Patient families are always quick to say “we don’t know what we would have done without the Ronald McDonald House.” Whether they are taking a break for coffee hour in the Ronald McDonald House Lounge, bonding with other families in the House within the Hospital, or staying three months in the House at Westmoreland Drive, families are undoubtedly thankful.

Mary Margaret and Andy Biss and their daughter Anna, a 2013 Miracle Kid, are one of the many grateful families who have stayed in the House within the Hospital. Anna underwent three intensive heart surgeries before the age of 5. “We didn’t want to go home and not be with Anna, so it was great to be in a comfortable environment and know that we could go see her whenever we wanted,” Mary Margaret said. “We felt like we were running a marathon and everyone gave us a pass to rest. The House within the Hospital is such an invaluable piece of the healing puzzle.”

Between the House within the Hospital and House at Westmoreland, more than 1,200 families are cared for by Ronald McDonald House Charities of Rochester every year, giving them a place to find respite during a very challenging time. Families are stronger when together and a family’s presence helps a sick or injured child heal faster and cope better.

When the House within the Hospital opened in 2008 it was only the fourth of its kind in the world. The 4,000 square foot house is located above the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and holds seven overnight rooms for families of some of the hospital’s most critical patients, allowing them to be only seconds away from their children undergoing treatment. The in-hospital facility also has private bathrooms, a kitchen and laundry facility.

DeMoulinOften at full-capacity, the 20-bedroom Ronald McDonald House at Westmoreland accommodates families who live outside of Monroe County and stay for an average of 12 nights at a time. The warm and peaceful home allows families to have as normal of a routine as possible. In addition to being able to shower and sit down for a meal, patient families find comfort in bonding with others experiencing similar situations.  

“It’s important for us to provide the surrounding for parents to be together where they can unwind from the stresses of the day,” said Carol DeMoulin, president of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Rochester. “We do all that we can to lighten their load.”

Respite will be the focus when the future Golisano Children’s Hospital opens in 2015, complete with a new Ronald McDonald House Family Room. Open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., the spacious family environment will also include a kitchen, laundry, computers, full showers, and more. The House within the Hospital’s seven overnight rooms will also be incorporated later on in the hospital’s building process.

“We are most excited because, with the new hospital, we will have the opportunity to provide comfort and services to more families than ever before,” DeMoulin said. “The need is great.”

“When we first started the planning process for the future children’s hospital there was no question that we would need space to include our wonderful partners at Ronald McDonald House,” said Nina F. Schor, M.D., Ph.D., William H. Eilinger Chair of Pediatrics (2006-2017) and pediatrician-in-chief of Golisano Children’s Hospital. “They are a critical piece of what Golisano Children’s Hospital stands for – providing our region’s children and their families with the best possible environment for healing – and we are beyond excited for the new family room and to recognize them with a Miracle Maker award.”

The dedication of 250 volunteers from the community who prepare nightly meals for families, help run errands, and provide transportation to and from the children’s hospital, in addition to the committed staff showcases the importance of the close-knit partnership between Ronald McDonald House, Golisano Children’s Hospital, and our generous Rochester community. 

“Our volunteers say they get so much more out of their experience than they give, but we could never be able to do what we do without them,” DeMoulin said.

Golisano Children’s Hospital relies on the commitment from its generous community partners to help provide the best care for every child and family who steps through our doors. For their consistent generosity and incredibly warm and welcoming hearts, The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Rochester is receiving this year’s Miracle Maker Award for Outstanding Commitment by a Community Partner.