Room for love

Ronald McDonald Family Room® offers comfortable atmosphere for parents with children in care at Children's Hospital.

Ronald McDonald Family Room® offers comfortable atmosphere for parents with children in care at Children's Hospital.

Winnipeg Health Region
Wave, January / February 2010

Something special is happening on the third floor of Children's Hospital.

Workers are busy transforming an old operating room suite into a 3,000-squarefoot family room for parents of children who are in hospital.

The soon-to-be-completed Ronald McDonald Family Room® will be the first of its kind in Winnipeg, and promises to make life just a little bit easier for families going through a difficult time.

Set to open this spring, the Family Room will offer many of the comforts now found at Ronald McDonald House, which is located nearby at 566 Bannatyne. Features include a shared kitchen, a dining area, laundry facilities, bathroom, living room with play area and computers connected to the Internet, a quiet lounge and three sleeping rooms for families.

"The room will provide guests with a place of respite from the hospital so they can rest while being just steps away from their child's bedside," says Stacey Grocholski, Executive Director of Ronald McDonald House Winnipeg, "It will be available to any family with a child being treated at Children's Hospital, and will be the world's largest Ronald McDonald Family Room." Noting that the Family Room will be done in a Cape Cod theme of inviting blue and white, Grocholski says a lot of thought has gone into every design element. "It's quite the undertaking."

John Ignaszewski, Construction Manager for Toronto-based Handels Klein Ltd., which is developing the project, concurs. "When I first came here, this space was vacant operating rooms, recovery rooms and a sterilizing room," he says.

The Family Room, designed by Winnipeg- based Number Ten Architectural Group, is expected to be ready to open sometime in late March. The idea for a Family Room came from Ronald McDonald House officials a couple of years ago, says Dana Erickson, Vice- President and Chief Administrative Officer for Health Sciences Centre.

"They sold us on the idea," he emphasizes. "It wasn't a tough sell because we understand that patient care extends to family care. It's incredibly important, particularly when the patients are children, and families can be close by."

The Family Room will serve both out-oftown families and families who live nearby, says Grocholski, noting that there are 145 Ronald McDonald Rooms in 16 countries - U.S. (79); Europe (48); APMEA (13); Latin America (2); and three in Canada (including the one being built here).

The Family Room, which will cost approximately $700,000, is built on a partnership between Health Sciences Centre, Ronald McDonald House and Ronald Mc- Donald House Charities Canada (RMHC). "While all partners will remain active in dialogue surrounding the Family Room, it is managed by the local Ronald McDonald House," says Grocholski.

She points out that RMHC Canada has provided 30 per cent of the funding for startup costs and Ronald McDonald House Winnipeg will provide an additional 20 per cent of the funding.

"But, we are still seeking donations to fund the remaining 50 per cent of our project, as well as ongoing operational costs associated with the program," says Grocholski, adding that HSC has donated the space and will cover utilities costs for the 10-year agreement.

The only full-time staff person working in the Family Room when it opens will be its manager, Kristin Hancock.

"The biggest challenge is finding the 100 to 150 volunteers to keep this place going," says Hancock, adding that at least two volunteers will be required on each of the three shifts of four hours each, seven days a week, all year round.

Martin Zeilig is a Winnipeg writer.

Wave: January / February 2010

About Wave

Wave is published six times a year by the Winnipeg Health Region in cooperation with the Winnipeg Free Press. It is available at newsstands, hospitals and clinics throughout Winnipeg, as well as McNally Robinson Books.

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