Ronald McDonald House Central Alberta now has a specific room available for Red Deer families to use when their children are patients at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.
The room was set aside for local families on Nov. 1. It is equipped with a full washroom, bed, and television, so they can grab a nap, shower or just relax. They can also access meals and laundry at the house.
“We’ve had day use prior to that but this is now a space dedicated specifically to this program. It’s a guarantee to any family at the hospital that doesn’t need overnight accommodations that they have a space at the house,” said Jason Evanson, CEO for Ronald McDonald House, Southern and Central Alberta.
He said the room, available free of charge, has already been used on a number of weekends. The room could potentially be used several times a day by different families.
Day use opens the house up to lots of other young patients and their families, he said.
The house, located at 5002 39th St. near the Red Deer hospital, opened in February 2012 to provide affordable accommodations for children and their families who live outside the city and are receiving treatment at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.
From Sept. 1 to Nov. 30, the facility welcomed 71 out-of-town families. A total of 36 families were from Central Alberta, 12 from Eastern Alberta, nine from Western Alberta, six were from Southern Alberta, five from Northern Alberta, and three were out of province.
There were 74 Red Deer families that used day passes.
Evanson said occupancy at the Red Deer house has been growing over time and the charity is fortunate to be supported by a very generous community.
Shannon and Lee Kocyba, of Ponoka, stayed at the house with their toddler Locklyn for a few weeks after their twins Jace and Rylan were born prematurely on Sept. 7.
Both twins were in the neonatal intensive care unit and are now doing well.
Shannon said it was a difficult experience, but the staff at Ronald McDonald House were great.
“My toddler is super chatty so he would always talk with all the ladies and he still asks me to go back,” Shannon said.
She appreciated that relatives that came to visit the twins could also stop in and join her family for a meal at the house.
“They were so welcoming when we had family come to visit. It was really nice. It wasn’t just us that were allowed.”