Canada’s first House within a hospital

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The reaction from families in the Windsor-Essex community was instant and extremely gratifying when they heard that Windsor Regional Hospital (WRH) would be facilitating a Ronald McDonald House to accommodate families requiring overnight stays inside of the hospital. It is a first in Canada to have the concept of a “house within a hospital”. Ronald McDonald House Charities have introduced the model of providing houses inside hospitals in other countries such as the United States and Japan. The existing 14 homes in Canada are free-standing structures. Windsor’s House will be closer to the young patients, inside of Windsor Regional Hospital, only a few steps from the clinical area.

Ronald McDonald House Charities Southwestern Ontario (RMHSWO) made the official announcement on May 1, 2015 after developing a business case for the project with Board approval.

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“We are incredibly excited to be able to support families coming to Windsor Regional Hospital during their time of most critical need,” says Margaret Anderson, Executive Director for RMHSWO. “Approximately 26 per cent of the families we support at our House in London, Ontario come from the Windsor-Essex region. While that number won’t change, we are thrilled to be able to bring the same level of comfort and support right into the Windsor-Essex community.”

Windsor Regional Hospital has offered 3,500 square feet of space in a former clinical wing of the facility for the new House. A Steering Committee is now reviewing and determining the room capacity and amenities within the space to facilitate the needs of families such as showers, laundry facilities, kitchen and lounge space to make the area as comfortable as possible.

The Ronald McDonald “house within a hospital” is expected to include at least five bedrooms to help keep families together through their child’s medical journey. Currently, some individuals and families choose to use WRH’s Bedside Manor homes located at both the Met and Ouellette campuses however, they are frequently occupied. The introduction of a RMH provides a unique opportunity specifically for families of children and newborn patients at Met campus and will allow the Bedside Manor locations to focus on families and loved ones of adult patients.

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“We are extremely proud to be the first hospital in Canada privileged to house a Ronald McDonald House program that meets the needs of any parent by giving them a comfortable place to rest during very difficult times,” says David Musyj, President and CEO of Windsor Regional Hospital. “Ronald McDonald House is a name synonymous with our mission to provide ‘Outstanding Care – No Exceptions!’ and is a wonderful partnership that will serve families for many years to come.”

The Ronald McDonald House Charities across the spectrum offer a “home away from home” for families affected by a seriously ill child. The facilities offer a comforting atmosphere, nourishment and rest, often needed by parents. Families do not focus on themselves when their child is sick; their concern is on their child only.

“It’s very overwhelming to have a sick child that needs so much care,” explains Jason Dunn, whose son was in hospital for several months after birth. “You don’t want to leave but you know you have to because you have to sleep. At the end of the day, you’re leaving your sick child in a bed and it rips your heart apart.”

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The House will provide families that time they need to reenergize, so that they can continue to be there for their child. Volunteers, donors and suppliers will assist with the operations of the House on a daily basis.

Ronald McDonald House Charities Southwestern Ontario’s Vision is “Giving sick children what they need most…their families” and their Mission, “To provide comforting and supportive services and programs for families of seriously ill children who require medical care.” With those statements, the Windsor-Essex community is assured that the House, planned to open in the spring of 2016, will be just what the doctor ordered.

For further information contact the London, Ontario Ronald McDonald House Charities Southwestern Ontario office at RHMWindsor@rmhswo.ca or 519-685-3232.

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