In March of 2021, Ronald McDonald House® New York celebrated the opening of Ronald McDonald Family Room New York at NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst in Queens, NY.
This further extended the mission of the Ronald McDonald House New York to reach more families and caregivers in underserved communities in NYC and supply health equity to all citizens across the five boroughs of NYC..
Elmhurst is only the second Ronald McDonald Family Room in New York City, the first Family Room open three years prior at NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County.
“The Ronald McDonald Family Room New York, bolsters our footprint in the New York City community and provides a seamless circle of support to meet the needs of vulnerable families,”
said Dr. Ruth Browne, President & CEO of Ronald McDonald House New York.
“It is also part of the broader national Ronald McDonald House Charities expansion strategy. And with Elmhurst being part of the largest public hospital system in New York – and the country – it was very important to us that we continue to build our family rooms in New York there.”
“NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst Hospital is truly honored to have this unique partnership with Ronald McDonald House New York, which provides temporary and much needed respite for the caregivers of our most vulnerable population – including our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Pediatric Inpatient Unit, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and Pediatric Behavioral Health Unit,”
said Eric Wei, Elmhurst Hospital Interim CEO.
“We are grateful to have the opportunity to address the needs of our patients that are beyond the medical care we are privileged to provide.”
Family Room Location
The Ronald McDonald Family Room will be located on the eight floor, E-Wing of Elmhurst Hospital. There is quick and easy access from pediatric patient services and the Ronald McDonald Family Room. In total, the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Elmhurst Hospital is approximately 950 square feet.
The Elmhurst Moments
Recently, the coordinator of the Family Room at Elmhurst, Jen Wiener, captured four moments truly special and show at the heart why the Family Rooms exist. They were build to serve and ease the incredibly difficult job of being a parent to a NICU baby or the caregiver of a teenager who has been battling a number of life-threatening illnesses for far too many years
Ronald McDonald Family Rooms are created to give parents and caretakers a place in the hospital not seconds from their child where they can unwind, nap, watch tv or just simply turn off for a few moments to regenerate the precious energy they need to be 100% for their kid.
These stories demonstrate how the team at Elmhurst Hospital has found that balance for parents and caregivers and are achieving their goals for the Family Room every single day.
A Moment of Relief in What Might Be the Very Hardest Days
Over the weekend, I met a family in the PEDS unit that left a lasting impression on me. The Ronald McDonald Family Room was the happiest moment in their otherwise dreadful hospital stay. I invited the parents to visit the room while doing a smoothie run to the PEDS unit.
The next day one of the moms came in to check out our space. She had a snack and took an interest in our Arts & Crafts section. Since the dad had stayed in the unit to be with their baby, the mom facetimed her husband the entire time she was creating her mosaic art. She sought his advice and they laughed and chatted in Spanish the entire time. They worked on the whole project together though he wasn’t physically in the room. Afterwards, she sat down in the Delos chair and took a nap.
In the evening, her husband came in to see the room in person (as he had been given a virtual tour earlier by his wife). He was very thankful for everything. His wife hadn’t slept in two days and dreaded every moment in the hospital except for the time she got to spend in the Family Room. The dad stayed to chat for a bit.
Their family had just received the good news that they would be discharged the next day. They wanted to express their gratitude for making their time at the hospital easier than it might have been.
Attached is a photo of the finished mosaic art the couple worked on ‘together.’
So Parents and Caregivers can Recharge or Decompress
Yesterday, the PEDS unit social worker introduced a father with a teenager recently admitted to the hospital. Upon learning about the various offerings of the Ronald McDonald Family Room, the father was surprised at everything that the room offered him and his family. When told that everything was free, the father quietly broke into tears. The family was recently down on their luck. He was so happy to have some coffee, a snack and a quiet place to watch TV for a moment.
The mother was brought by her husband to the family room later in the evening when she arrived at the hospital. Similarly, the mother cried tears of thankfulness when she saw the room and discovered the amenities were all complimentary.
After spending a short time in the room and chatting with Ronald McDonald Family Room supervisors, the mother and father felt comfortable enough to share their story. Sadly, their child was inflicting self-harm and they had no choice but to seek critical care at the hospital. The parents were devastated watching their child struggle with this type of mental illness and not having any way to help.
They visited the family room multiple times while they were caring for their child in the PEDS unit. Dad has been extremely grateful for the opportunity to use the Ronald McDonald Family Room space daily to recharge and decompress. He was grateful to have had someone listen to his story.
Record-Setting Accomplishments at Elmhurst Family Room
On Monday Jan 30th, we had six visits to the Ronald McDonald Family Room within the first three hours of the day. Then, we rounded out the day with a grand total of 13 visits overall.
Normally, these would be the numbers we see over the course of an entire week, so this is a huge milestone we’ve accomplished.
Let's Celebrate NICU Graduation Time
Following the inspiration from Odain & Janina at the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Kings County Hospital, the Family Room at Elmhurst Hospital will be hosting ongoing NICU graduations for babies who have been in the unit for extended periods of time when they receive the good news that they are getting discharged and heading home.
We will be making customized onesies and blankets for each baby along with a variety of other useful items for the newborn. This will help them transition to life at home.
The Ronald McDonald Hospitality Cart has been transformed into a mobile party station - offering beverages, snacks, and festive balloons to celebrate the family’s exit from the hospital.
Attached is an image of a sample NICU graduation package we created for one of our graduating little ones, Anthony. It features a variety of items in Spanish, the parents’ native language.
Future Family Rooms
Ronald McDonald House New York has already got three more Family Rooms just like Kings County and Elmhurst slated to open in 2023.
Help RMH-NY expand into every borough of New York City, so that we can bring care to those families and children that need it the most.
There will be plenty of opportunities for you, your family, or you and your co-workers to volunteer and any one of the Family Rooms that will expand from Queens and Brooklyn to Manhattan in 2023.
Learn about Volunteer opportunities here.
Also, there has never been a more important and crucial time to give to RMH-NY. Our expansion will be quick, but we are still looking for amazing friends of the House like yourself who will be willing to go the extra mile to help us expand our reach and help for families that much more quickly.
It will mean the world to so many kids and families in desperate need of a reason to smile today.