Illinois’ First Ronald McDonald Family Room

Ronald McDonald himself recently led dozens of people down the hallway at Edward Hospital for the ribbon cutting and tour of Illinois’ first Ronald McDonald Family Room. The nearly 2,000 square foot room is just a short distance away from Edward’s Newborn and Pediatric Intensive Care Units.

“This is for all of our patients and family members who now have a place to stay very close to where their children are being cared for,” said Pam Davis, President and CEO of Edward Hospital. “We give excellent care day in and day out and now we have the facilities that also show that up close and personal.”

“It’s nice for me because I know they’re there,” said Jessica Schaefer, an 11-year-old patient at Edward Hospital. “If I feel scared I know they’re there.”

“Just in case something happens that’s unexpected you want to be there,” said Lisa Schaefer, Jessica’s mother. “Sometimes, no matter how close you think you are, it’s nicer to be right then and there where you see everything.”

“Anytime the parents can be close to their baby the baby clearly benefits from that,” said Dr. Bob Covert, Medical Director for Edward NICU. “When older children are in the hospital it’s a major life stressor, so the fact that you can have your parents close to you when that happens is a great value to parents.”

The Family Room not only allows parents to be closer to their kids but also gives them a place to just step away from the stress. Three and a half year old Michael Gillespie spent the first 299 days of his life at Edward Hospital. His mom Keri has helped bring the Ronald McDonald Family Room to Edward since the beginning so that no parent ever has to go through what she did.

“There were several times where just to take a quick 20 minute nap would help. There were times when we were sleeping in chairs next to my son’s incubator,” said Gillespie. “Sometimes you need quiet but all that’s available is the cafeteria.”

The Ronald McDonald Family Room has a living room and relaxation area, a kitchen, computers with Internet, two sleeping rooms complete with their own shower and bathroom, and a playroom for kids.

“This is a fun place for the kids to go so they can get out and play a little so they don’t feel cramped in the bed,” said Jessica Schaefer.

The Edward Foundation and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana partnered together to bring the family room to the hospital.

“It’s great to have it in our own backyard, but most importantly for the families that we serve to stay close to their child in their time of need. Not having to worry about driving back and forth or get a hotel room really helps the kids and the families focus on getting them better,” said Paul Huebener, Chairman of the Board of Directors for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana.

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