Ronald McDonald House planned for near Central DuPage Hospital
By Romi Herron For The Courier-News January 29, 2013 4:56PM
Ronald McDonald House near Loyola University Medical Center
Updated: March 1, 2013 7:40PM
When a child is stricken with cancer, treatment options sometimes inspire parents to travel across the world, leaving the comforts of home behind.
Plans for a new Ronald McDonald House Charities facility near Cadence Health Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield are designed with those families, plus local ones, in mind.
The house — to feature approximately 12 private bedrooms and bathrooms, a living room, kitchen, dining room, recreational spaces, and laundry facilities — is tentatively set to be built on Winfield Road, west of CDH.
“This location was chosen because we have a significant pediatric program,” said Chris Hensley, president of Cadence Health Foundation, noting CDH’s Proton Center, one of nine pediatric cancer treatment proton centers in the United States. “We’ve had people from 20 states come to our CDH Proton Center, as well as people from seven countries.”
Traveling families are faced with mounting lodging costs in addition to the concerns for their ill children, and Ronald McDonald House Charities provides lodging at no charge for families whose children are undergoing treatment. In addition to those out-of-state or even international families, local and regional families also turn to Ronald McDonald houses.
“It is an opportunity for local families to be close to their child when he/she is an inpatient in our pediatrics department,” Hensley said. “It enables the parent to be with and or near the child at any time day or night.”
Since proton center patients will stay with their families in the new facility, the house will offer a unique design, according to Hensley and Mary Agnes Laguatan, vice president of operations at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana.
“Our hope is to build a 12-bedroom house, and we are hoping we won’t have wait lists,” said Laguatan. “About half the rooms will be used by proton center families, and the other for families in neonatal ICU, pediatric surgery, etc.”
Hensley said The Cadence Foundation will do “the bulk of fundraising” for the project, anticipated to cost $5.6 million. He said the CDH Auxiliary committed to help raise $5 million.
“We need a little bit of time to engage the community and raise those dollars,” he said. “We anticipate breaking ground early next year and that the house will be open and serving patients about two years from now.”
Laguatan said families are referred by the hospital, and considerations are made for distance from home and the child’s circumstances. Typically, families who stay at the house are 10 miles or more away from home. The new house will serve families at Central DuPage Hospital, Delnor Hospital in Geneva and the cancer campus in Warrenville.
“We are confident we are able to do a groundbreaking early next year,” said Laguatan, who also emphasized the volunteer presence that makes Ronald McDonald houses comforting to patients’ families.
“We always say that volunteers are truly the heart of the house,” she said.
While the house will have up to three staff members, the operations will rely on volunteers.
“It’s a wonderful engagement of the community to take care of people,” she said.
Roles include reception, greeting, gardening, cooking and tidying up the facility.
“I think that extra gesture of kindness from volunteers gives people hope,” Laguatan said. “And that’s what we’re aiming for.”
Ronald McDonald House Charities currently has more than 300 houses across the world, including four houses in the Chicago area: near Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn; in Hines, near Loyola University Medical Center; University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; and Edward Hospital in Naperville.