NWA’s First Ronald McDonald House® Coming to Washington Regional Medical Center
Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Arkoma Furthers Mission of #KeepingFamiliesClose
Guests arriving at the Pat Walker Center for Seniors on Tuesday were greeted by a waving, larger-than-life Ronald McDonald on one side and the construction site for Washington Regional’s five-story women and infants center expansion on the other. Attendees gathered to see Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Arkoma announce their newest program aimed at keeping families close. RMHC® of Arkoma, in partnership with the Washington Regional Medical Center, is bringing the first Ronald McDonald House® in Northwest Arkansas to Fayetteville.
Tuesday’s event was attended by many valued community members, including Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jorden, Lance Taylor and Gilda Underwood from the Schmieding Foundation, McDonalds NWA, Inc.’s Walter, Vicki, Bill, and Bette Mathews, Sheriff of Fayetteville Tim Helder, key members of the WRMC team, and a number of medical staff from the Johnelle Hunt Center for Women. The announcement was made by RMHC® of Arkoma’s President and CEO, Stephanie Medford. She said, “We will expect to serve approximately 1,500 families in our first year alone. Through our current programs, families tell us they feel they have abandoned their child, or will miss out on a critical doctor visit if they leave the hospital. But with Ronald McDonald House®, they will never have to.”
Medford underscored the importance of the RMHC® mission, and of the new House in particular: “The goal is to keep families together, and lift the burdens of where to sleep, where to eat and relax, while remaining only steps away from their child.” A one million dollar capital campaign is underway to support the construction of the new House. Medford said that nearly 40% of the campaign has already been funded, thanks to the generous support of founding donors Ronald McDonald House Charities® Global, Washington Regional Medical Foundation, the Shmieding Foundation, Inc., the Mathews family, Dr. Al and Dorothy Hanby and Dr. Kris and Stacey Hanby.
Located on the top floor of the under-construction building, this new program will be one of four operated by RMHC® of Arkoma. The House will fill a need created by the almost-tripled Neonatal Infant Care Unit capacity. According to Washington Regional Medical Foundation Executive Director Tim Hudson, “There will be 100 addional patient beds in that facility. We are expanding our NICU from 12 open bay beds to 34 beds… We will be tripling the number of deliveries taking place here at Washington Regional from a little over 1000 or so a year to approaching 3,500…that’s a big addition to our region and to the capacity of this hospital to serve the community.”
Hudson continued, “There’s no wonder that we’re adding a Ronald McDonald House® in partnership with our friends, Ronald McDonald House Charities® [of Arkoma]. Why have we invited [them] to partner with us on this? Because our patients and families will need it.” The House will have six bedrooms, each with private bathrooms, a kitchen with fully stocked pantry, dining room, playroom and living room. Available day and night, 365 days a year, and at no cost to those who receive its’ services, the House is designed to meet the needs of families of ill or injured children, offering a home-like oasis in the unfamiliar hospital landscape. Thanks to programs like these, families of seriously ill children will be able to be present and involved in their child’s hospitalization and treatment while helping them in the healing process.