So far 58 families have stayed at Ronald McDonald House Central Alberta since it opened at the end of February.
The $12-million Red Deer facility, with 11 suites, provides affordable accommodations for children and their families who live outside the city and are receiving treatment at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.
“We haven’t been to the point where we’ve been completely full yet. We’ve been close a number of times,” said Larry Mathieson, executive director of Ronald McDonald House for Southern Alberta and Central Alberta, on Tuesday.
“It’s been tremendously successful. We’re thrilled to be serving families and be able to be there for families.”
The average length of stay for families is nine to 11 days.
As expected, the majority of families have babies in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit.
Mathieson said it always takes a while for word to spread to families with children on other hospital wards.
Last week, seven families at the house were from Central Alberta communities. A family from Calgary and a family from Edmonton were also there, likely accessing neonatal beds, he said.
Between 365 and 400 families a year are expected to sleep at the house.
Day passes are also being given out by hospital social workers and nurses to Red Deer families with children in hospital to use the house for a break or a meal.
So far 18 dinners for families have been prepared and funded by people in the community or from businesses.
The community and corporate sponsors helped raise millions to build the house.
As of April 31, a little over 50 per cent of the annual $1.1 million operations budget has been raised.
“There’s not a lot of weeks that a group doesn’t do some kind of fundraiser for us. That’s continued to be a great support,” Mathieson said.
Right now Ronald McDonald House would gladly accept donations of infant and baby toys. They can be dropped off at the house located at 5002 39th St. near Red Deer Regional Hospital.