From the front door of the new Ronald McDonald House on Winfield Road to the children’s wing at
Central DuPage Hospital there are 371 steps.
For a worried parent of a sick child, that locale means a lot.
“If parents can’t sleep at 2 a.m. because they’re concerned about their baby, they can literally walk across the street and hold their hand,” says Chris Hensley, president of Cadence Health Foundation. Opening of the $6.225 million facility is set at more than a year away, but excitement for a project with such demonstrated need already is evident.
Cadence Health’s affiliation with the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, and the opening of its Warrenville proton beam treatment center—one of only 11 in the United States—means that this hospital campus has become a medical destination, drawing patients from outside the area and even outside the country.
“Last year, we had a family who chose proton beam therapy for their child. They found us, took sabbaticals from their jobs, pulled their children out of school and traveled 15,000 miles from Australia. They were here six weeks and lived in a hotel the whole time,” Hensley says. “A Ronald McDonald House would have been perfect in that situation.”
Mary Agnes Laguatan, vice president of operations for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana, says Cadence sought her organization’s help in meeting the growing need for temporary housing. “Because of our expertise in this area, they said they’d like to partner with us. We were delighted to look at the need, and decide to move forward.”
The facility will offer 12 family-size bedrooms, including four designed for the extended stays needed for outpatient proton beam therapy. Each bedroom will accommodate up to five people. On the main floor are a dining room and kitchen, where volunteers provide a meal each day, or where families can prepare their own. There’s also a living room, library nook, toddler play area, video game and TV room, family room, and community room.
“Being with other families in a similar situation will provide a better holistic experience,” Hensley says. The house also will include an exercise room, the only Ronald McDonald House to include one so far.
“It’s important for parents to be able to have that routine, and to be able to relieve stress through physical activity,” Laguatan says.
Its proximity to Central DuPage Hospital also makes the house special.
“It’s our goal to have them as close as possible, but that depends on the availability of sites, which can be hard to come by in hospital districts. We’re very blessed to find a site that’s so close,” Laguatan says.
The house will serve Central DuPage Hospital, Delnor Hospital and the Warrenville cancer campus. Laguatan expects it to be at capacity most of the time.
Groundbreaking is scheduled for March 18, 2014 and construction is expected to take about 11 months. Fundraising currently is underway. The Cadence Health Auxiliary has committed to raise $5 million for construction and another $1 million to run the house for the first three to four years.
“We’re past the halfway mark but still encouraging the community to invest in this,” Hensley says.
You can help by going to www.cadencehealth.org/giving