May 3, 2019
Writer: Jaime Strobel

Last month, construction began for the new Ronald McDonald family room at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls.

A family room is a mini-version of a Ronald McDonald House, Warren Maxfield, director of programs for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Idaho said. It is a room built inside of the hospital rather than a separate building.

“Ronald McDonald House Charities of Idaho’s mission is to keep families together during times of medical necessity,” Maxfield said.

He said this charity seeks to keep families close together, and it provides the structure and support for parents so they can help their children when they are under medical treatments.

The family room will be completed in August and will be Idaho’s second Ronald McDonald facility.

“What the family room does, and why this model has taken off within the charity globally, is it provides more of a communal aspect,” Maxfield said.

Anyone who has a pediatric patient is welcome to visit the family room. The facility will have food available for them, and volunteers will be present to help prepare and make meals for the families.

There will also be other amenities available such as, washers, dryers and showers. This allows for parents to stay close to their children without having the stress of leaving the hospital to meet their physical needs.

The family room will allow for families to meet others who are under similar stress and anxiety of having a child undergoing medical treatment, Maxfield said.

“The comradery and support that comes from that becomes an invaluable piece and asset for those families,” he said.

Maxfield said the reason EIRMC set itself apart from other hospitals in the region was because it’s the only one with a level three neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

People from western Wyoming, southern Montana, northern Utah and other areas in Idaho will be sent to EIRMC for premature births, Maxfield said. Having this family room will provide them with security, and less stress for making frequent travels back home.

There will be many opportunities for people to volunteer and donate, including donating their time.

“When we are open and operating, we would love to get as much help as we can get,” Maxfield said.