A look inside the new Ronald McDonald House family room at Seton Medical Center

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The living room at the new Ronald McDonald House Family Room in Seton Medical Center. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman
The living room at the new Ronald McDonald House Family Room in Seton Medical Center. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman

The living room at the new Ronald McDonald House Family Room in Seton Medical Center.
Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman

I’ve been working on a story about the 30th anniversary of Austin’s Ronald McDonald House and the woman who got it off the ground for my Giving Ways series, which focuses on Austinites who start charities. This morning, I toured the new Ronald McDonald House Family Room at Seton Medical Center. It’s the fourth family room inside a hospital. Dell Children’s, St. David’s and St. David’s North Austin all have family rooms, but at 1,800-square-feet this one is the largest.

The new family room has space for four families to stay at a time, with four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a laundry area, a nursing room, a living room with kids’ play area and a kitchen. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is just down the hall.

The nursing room at the new family room.

The nursing room at the new family room.

The idea of the family rooms is a place  for families to stay during the first few days of hospitalization and then either return home and commute to the hospital, if they live locally, or move to the full Ronald McDonald House if they are out of town. Most families will stay about three days.

The kids' play area at the new family room.

The kids’ play area at the new family room.

A bedroom, just waiting the bed, at the new family room.

A bedroom, just waiting the bed, at the new family room.

Besides seeing a beautiful, well-thought-out space that will make a big difference in the quality of life a new mom or dad experiences when a child is in the NICU, what was great about today was sharing stories with active Ronald McDonald House supporters who remember when they opened the first house in 1985, the second house in 1989 and the third house and current house in 2007. Two of them had had kids with cancer and either remembered sleeping in a chair in the hospital or getting to experience a Ronald McDonald House in Houston while at MD Anderson.

I’m excited to tell more of the story later this month.


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