There are 321 Ronald McDonald Houses in more than 30 countries, says Lisa Pacula, executive director of Ronald McDonald House Charities of northeastern Indiana, but the one that will open soon at the Parkview Regional Medical Center is exceptional.
Most Ronald McDonald Houses, which are designed to provide a home away from home to families of sick or injured children, are in buildings separate from the hospital.
Many of them resemble private residences.
The new Ronald McDonald House at Parkview is inside the hospital. It takes up 9,000 square feet that will not generate revenue for Parkview, Pacula says.
“That the hospital would give up this amount of square footage says a lot about Parkview,” she says. “Whenever (Parkview Health president and CEO) Mike Packnett is asked about it, he says ‘It’s the right thing to do.’ ”
Local staffers and volunteers gave public tours of the facility Sunday.
It will officially open with a ribbon-cutting Nov. 27, Pacula says.
The former facility at Parkview’s Randallia Drive campus occupied 2,800 square feet and had six guest rooms, Pacula says.
The latest Ronald McDonald House, which resembles a resort hotel, has 11 guest rooms, a kitchen, a dining room, a computer center, a coffee bar, a laundry room, a meeting room and several public rooms of assorted sizes designed for leisure and relaxation.
There is also a locker room for parents who don’t intend to spend the night but who want to make use of the facility during the day, she says.
Pacula says community groups can use the meeting room in exchange for sponsoring a dinner for everyone staying in the Ronald McDonald House at the time.
The facility’s muted color scheme and spare design elements are meant to minimize the stress that relatives of hospitalized children naturally experience.
“The idea is that everything should be organic, healing and calm,” she says. “Nothing that jars the senses.”
Taking up temporary residence in Ronald McDonald House at Parkview is not dependent on assessments of diagnosis or financial situation.
“Anyone who has a child in the hospital 21 and under can stay here,” she says.
And there is no cap on the amount of time that a family can lodge there. Pacula says the longest stay at the old facility was 6 1/2 months in the case of a premature baby.
The new Ronald McDonald House was made possible by a $2 million capital campaign that was launched a year ago, Pacula says, and 40 percent of its operating revenue will come from the donation canisters that rest on the counters of more than 40 local McDonald’s restaurants.
“If the public realized that the money stays local, I think they’d be much more inclined to put money in there,” she says.
Pacula, whose tenure with Ronald McDonald House Charities of northeastern Indiana predates the opening of the former facility in January 2002, says she is excited to “be able to provide better service and to better serve that many more families.”
“This is a real gift to the community,” she says.