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The Making of a Ronald McDonald House
22 Ronald McDonald Houses will open their doors for the first time this year to provide even more families the strength they need to help their child heal.
But what does it take to give the green light to open a Ronald McDonald House? Just how much love goes into the "House that Love Built?" Below is a quick overview of the comprehensive process followed for each one.
The Ronald McDonald House program is a program of Ronald McDonald House Charities. We have a rich 36-year history of operating successful programs that are needs-based, culturally relevant, sustainable and held to the highest operating standards and values.
To determine if there is a need for a Ronald McDonald House, RMHC Chapters work with their partner hospitals to conduct a medical feasibility study, a House occupancy study and an assessment of the mileage families are traveling to receive treatment for their child. Using a model developed by doctors on the RMHC Board of Trustees, the team assesses how many rooms will be needed. The model considers pediatric discharge numbers, and, if there is an existing House nearby, how many families are being turned away because the need of families exceeds the number of rooms currently available. Short and long-term needs are determined so, if possible, Chapters can build Houses that will support growth and are not at full capacity when they first open.
Because of the investment that is needed to build and sustain a House, RMHC Chapters determine the level of support needed from three groups – the medical community, McDonald’s and their local communities. These donors help financially through capital campaign gifts and they provide long-term, strategic guidance by participating on local RMHC Chapter boards, fundraising, providing in-kind services and volunteering their time and talent. Letters of endorsement from key stakeholders are required to move forward.
Quick fact: St. John’s Medical Center and McDonald’s both donated $1 million to open the third Ronald McDonald House in St. Louis – the 300th in the world.
Talk to Families
Each House reflects the unique needs of the families it serves. Families are surveyed to determine if they would use a House and what features or services are important to them. For example, are long-term suites, schooling, or programs for siblings critical to making families’ lives easier? Because RMHC Chapters operate holistic programs, not just rooms or buildings, a comprehensive process is needed to ensure all of the non-clinical activities that make a Ronald McDonald House unique are in place, such as pet therapy, meal and art programs. All of these considerations help families preserve a sense of normalcy when they are away from home while their sick or injured child receives treatment.
“When we visited the Ronald McDonald House it was clear that they knew so much more about the path we were about to take. They knew what we needed before we needed it.” Mary Krupski, a parent who stayed at the Ronald McDonald House of Upper Midwest.
Developing a Ronald McDonald House program takes considerable resources, and supporting ongoing operating expenses takes considerably more. Therefore, each local Chapter undergoes a comprehensive financial assessment to determine the financial sustainability of new program growth. Short and long-term strategic plans and business plans are incorporated into the financial assessment process.
A real estate assessment is conducted to determine options of where a Ronald McDonald House might be built and if the land will be purchased, leased or donated by the hospital. This is a critical step as the House location, convenient or even within walking distance to the Hospital, is especially important to families. Many Houses provide transportation to and from the hospital to ensure parents can be close by their child’s bedside during treatment.
Quick fact: The RMH in Minneapolis couldn’t expand at their current location due to lack of space. They worked with their local medical service provider to open a 20-bedroom Ronald McDonald House in the hospital.
If approved to develop a new Ronald McDonald House, the majority of funds need to be secured before breaking ground. Due to unwavering support from the community for such an impactful program, many of our Ronald McDonald Houses open debt-free, but continually need to raise additional funds for annual operating, program and support services that benefit the families it serves.
While each Ronald McDonald House is different, reflecting the communities it serves, the process to ensure RMHC programs can develop and thrive is consistent. In order for love to flow within the walls of a House, RMHC first needs to make sure that those walls are built on a sturdy foundation. RMHC and its local Chapters are committed to proper planning and assessment to ensure the House that Love Built is a cornerstone of its community and a beacon of hope for families it serves for years to come.
Did you know?
Thanks to our strong relationships with the medical community, corporate and individual donors, and volunteers, RMHC has projected significant program growth for the Ronald McDonald House program. There are projected to be:
- 324 Ronald McDonald House programs serving families by the end of 2011
- 350 Ronald McDonald House programs serving families by the end of 2015
With your help we can reach our goal to serve more families through the Ronald McDonald House program. Donate today.