FAYETTEVILLE -- Amanda Yates had a package of Pop-Tarts in hand when she toured the Ronald McDonald House at Washington Regional Medical Center recently.
Pop-Tarts and orange juice are two foods she lived on as she spent 23 days watching her daughter fight for her life in the neonatal intensive care unit at Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas in Rogers. Yates spent many hours in the NICU, and said Mercy's Ronald McDonald Family Room gave her a chance to try and recharge and connect with others going through similar battles.
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkoma raised $1.03 million in the past seven months for the Washington Regional Ronald McDonald House. Nearly $120,000 of the total raised was through in-kind gifts.
Several naming opportunities remain. Call (479) 756-5600 or email Stephanie Medford, president and CEO, at email@example.com or Leah Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org to make a donation.
Source: Staff report
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkhoma board
• Greg Lancelot, chairman
• Michael Hadley, vice chairman
• Melissa Udouj, secretary
• Charlie Brown, treasurer
• Bill Mathews
• Stephen Kilpatrick
• Eric Pianalto
• Jim Hadley
• Susan Pruitt
• Walter Mathews
• Daniel Barnes
• John Hadley
• Bette Mathews
• Fidel Samour
Source: Staff report
"When you don't have to worry about the small stuff, you can focus on your baby," she said. "You are No. 2, and the baby is No. 1"
Families in similar situations will be able to get similar services at a new Ronald McDonald House in Fayetteville. Washington Regional Medical Center celebrated its opening at the hospital's Women and Infants Center, said Stephanie Medford, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkoma.
The Rogers room opened in July 2013.
One-hundred people gathered for a ceremony outside the center, which was kept short because of the cold. Guests then warmed up by touring the facility.
Ronald McDonald Family Rooms and Houses provide free accommodations to families with sick children age 18 and younger. They are staffed and open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Rooms are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Greg Lancelot, chairman of the charity's board, said size helps determine if a facility is considered a room or a house. Washington Regional's house fills 6,200 square feet on the top floor of the Women and Infants Center. It has six bedroom suites with fulls baths, laundry room, full kitchen, fully stocked pantry, dining room and playroom.
Children are allowed to spend the night at a house, but not a family room.
The Rogers' room has about 3,200 square feet on Mercy's third floor and has four bedrooms, a partial kitchen, dining room, sitting room, play area, bathrooms and laundry facilities. Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkoma also runs a family room at Mercy in Fort Smith. It opened as the state's first family room in December 2010.
Mollie Yates was born June 8 to Amanda and Rob Yates. Amanda Yates said the birth seemed normal, but six hours later her doctor said Mollie needed genetic testing. Mollie was diagnosed with down syndrome and spent nearly a month in the NICU because she was not gaining weight, Amanda Yates said.
She said the Ronald McDonald Family Room allowed her to stay close to Mollie, who needed to be fed every three hours. The charity provides meals to visiting families, allowing the Yateses to focus on Mollie's health and the well-being of her 4-year-old sister, Maggie.
Washington Regional's NICU is on the Women and Infants Center's fourth floor, just one floor below the Ronald McDonald House.
"By being in the hospital, a mom can paddle down the hall in her pajamas and slippers to check on her baby," Lancelot said.
Medford said she expects about 1,500 families to use the facility next year. Tim Hudson, executive director of the Washington Regional Medical Foundation, said 219 babies were born at the facility since opening in mid-November. About 10 percent of babies end up in the neonatal intensive care unit, he said.
Bill Bradley, president and CEO of Washington Regional, knows firsthand what families go through when a child is the hospital. His youngest son, Adam, spent about a month in a NICU about 35 years ago for an intestinal disorder, Bradley said.
"My wife and I often wished we had a facility like this," he said. "It helps give a parent a little peace of mind."
Discussions between Washington Regional and the local Ronald McDonald House Charities started when the Women and Infants Center was a four-story tower, and the top floor was just going to be a shell for future build-out, Bradley said. The needs continued growing and before long plans showed the fourth floor built out, opening discussions to adding the fifth floor, he said.
"It told them and told us there was a need," Bradley said.
Medford said Washington Regional not only provides free space for the house, but also provides other services such as daily maintenance and housekeeping and overhead costs such as water and power.
A $1 million campaign started seven months ago, and grants, individual gifts and in-kind donations are at $1.03 million, Medford said.
Bill and Walter Mathews, owners of the local McDonald's franchise Mathews Management, are big supporters of Ronald McDonald House projects, Bill Mathews said. The brothers were instrumental in development of the kitchens in all three area facilities.
"What an outreach," Bill Mathews said. "You don't appreciate it unless you are in that situation, and we wanted to make sure families have what they need."
Amanda Yates said Mollie is doing well, but her thoughts often drift back to the help her family got during their stay at the Ronald McDonald Family Room.
"Now I'm spreading the word to people looking for giving opportunities," she said. "I want to help how I can."
NW News on 01/01/2017
Print Headline: Ronald McDonald House opens in Fayetteville