Ronald McDonald House of South Louisiana
Grace McIntosh, the Executive Director of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of South Louisiana (RMHC-SLA) was originally from California, but after her son met the love of his life, a born-and-raised Louisiana woman, she knew it was time to move the family to be with them when they had a daughter. After moving, she took her time and found a job that lined up with her values of wanting to support families and Ronald McDonald House Charities’ mission spoke to her.
In a nutshell, the Ronald McDonald House Charities of South Louisiana is meant to provide a “home-away-from-home” to families of seriously ill or injured children and to offer programs that give comfort, compassion, and care to children and their families.
The staff’s main objective is “to enable families to practice family-centered care by providing them with all of the basic comforts of home.” Since most families that stay with them have traveled long distances, and the sick child tends to be away from their home and family for a long time, familial divide is common. This is what RMHC-SLA works to avoid.
“For children facing a serious medical crisis, nothing seems scarier than not having mom and dad close by for love and support,” says McIntosh. “We provide a place for families to call home so they can stay close to their hospitalized child at little to no cost.”
Housing for immediate family members of pediatric patients being treated at medical facilities in South Louisiana must meet a few criteria to stay at RMHC-SLA: The family must live 25 miles outside of New Orleans, the patient receiving medical treatment must be 21 years old or younger, and all family members 18 years and older will need to pass a background check.
The families who do stay are offered plenty of care opportunities and consistent access to health care providers to ensure families are able to make well-informed decisions about the health care and support services the patient and family receive.
“Families of seriously ill children want to be with their child receiving treatment and do not want to be separated from spouses, partners, and other children for extended periods of time.
Through the family-centered care opportunities that RMHC-SLA offers these families can stay together during this time of need,” asserts McIntosh.
By providing family-centered care, the Ronald McDonald House is able to give families all the basic comforts of home by offering a hot meal, providing transportation, and of course, a warm bed and their own space to be together.
To McIntosh, the most exciting part of this charity’s partnership with Children’s Hospital New Orleans (CHNOLA) is the ease of care they get to provide. Nearly 70% of the children RMHC-SLA serves receive care at CHNOLA, and with the house being on the campus’s grounds, families are allowed to be much closer to their care providers and child. Additionally, since moving from the Canal Street location, the charity house has been able to increase available accommodations for families by 47% and provide seven additional family guest rooms.
With the increased number and size of community spaces in the new house, volunteer-led activities can be easily accomplished on-site, which is the heart of RHMC-SLA programming. With love and support from community members, these volunteer spaces can allow families to make lasting friendships and gain the strength to continue and hope for the future through these relationships.
If you would like to get involved and make a difference in the lives of families in need, there are plenty of ways to do so! Making a meal for the families, volunteering at the House, donating, or joining the staff are all great ways to show these families love and support. To learn more, visit rmhc-sla.org.