Riverbend Awareness Project

Join us to hear Christin’s experience with the Ronald McDonald Family Room. If you’d like to help support the Ronald McDonald House Charities, you can donate through one of the methods below. https://www.rmhcidaho.org/fundraisingforfamilies Text “RMFR 24” to 243-725 to donate over text Venmo @RMHC-Idaho

Show Notes

Join us to hear Christin’s experience with the Ronald McDonald Family Room. If you’d like to help support the Ronald McDonald House Charities, you can donate through one of the methods below.
Text “RMFR 24” to 243-725 to donate over text
Venmo @RMHC-Idaho

What is Riverbend Awareness Project?

The Riverbend Awareness Project brings you a new conversation each month about important causes and issues in our community. Every month of 2024 we will sit down and have a conversation with a professional from our community about significant issues like heart health, Alzheimer’s, literacy, and more. We’ll then share that conversation with you on the Riverbend Awareness Project Podcast, with the goal of sharing resources, and information that will help you have a better understanding of the particular problems, and solutions, associated with each topic.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this podcast episode are solely those of the individuals participating and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Riverbend Media Group or the Riverbend Awareness Project, its affiliates, or its employees. It is important to note that the discussion presented is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Listeners are encouraged to consult with qualified health care professionals for any medical concerns or decisions. The Riverbend Awareness Project is a product of Riverbend Media Group.

Melissa: I'm Melissa.

Russell: And I'm Russell.

Melissa: Welcome to the Riverbend Awareness Project. Each month, we dive into a topic our community is affected by and explore how you can help.

Russell: This month, along with literacy, we're doing a series on the Ronald McDonald Family Room here in Eastern Idaho.

Melissa: We're in studio today with Christin, and she's come to talk to us about her experience at the Ronald McDonald Family Room. How did you learn about the Ronald McDonald Family Room?

Christin: Our daughter, Charlotte, was flown to EIRMC, to the NICU, and we were connected with a social worker who told us about some of the resources available, including the Ronald McDonald Family Room at EIRMC.

Russell: What was your experience at the Ronald McDonald Family Room?

Christin: It was really positive. We were just down the hallway from the NICU, so we were able to see her anytime, night or day, feed her. We were able to be present with her doctors as they made their rounds every morning, and we had everything we needed.

Melisssa: How do you think that experience might have been different? I mean, it sounds like it's not fun anytime when you have a loved one, especially a child, in the hospital, but how do you think that that resource of the Family Room helped your stay be different?

Christin: I think we would not have been able to be parents like we were. It helped. She's our only child and it helped us be parents. Without the family room, we would've been driving a couple hours or more a day in the winter, which on some days was impossible. And so it helped us to connect with her and try to make it as normal as possible. It was not normal in any way, but we were at least close to her.

And so without the family room, I don't think we would have been able to make the connection and been part of the medical decisions quite as well.

Russell: So the Family Room, they help provide, like, places to do laundry, places to sleep. Were there any, like, little things that the Ronald McDonald Family Room did for you that, like, you would have never thought of? Just, like, I know sometimes they they provide treats baked by people or they provide toothbrushes. Can you just talk about some of those little things and how it helped you?

Christin: Yeah. I think, you know, your life can be upended so quickly without any anticipation. And when that happens, your first priority is to be with your child. So meals, sleeping, showering, laundry, all of those basic things become so big to have that readily available. Homemade meals; we were not worried about trying to find a drive through a few times a day and we were there for 30 days.

And so it was life changing. They actually put together a Super Bowl dinner for us, which allowed us to be together. And even though it was really dismal, we had a moment to just be a family. And my parents came from out of state, and so there was no way that they could have celebrated with us if it weren't for the family room, you know, to get to see our baby and just be with us. And so that dinner allowed us to be together.

The staff was always checking on us too, just to make sure we were okay, but they were also very respectful of our boundaries. I remember one time I was on my way to the NICU... Sorry. I was on my way to the NICU to feed Charlotte, and there were these little messages... Sorry.

This hits me so hard every time. I'm sorry, guys.

Melissa: It's ok.

Christin: There was a message on one of the snacks that said, "you got this."

So, yeah, that, that was a little thing that made such a huge difference when I didn't think I had it. It's— it's been a year, but I'd still, like, it feels so close.

Russell: What would you say to people who are just kind of on the edge of, like, should I support Ronald McDonald House or not? Like, is it really worth it to support the Ronald McDonald House?

Christin: I would say 100%, but that's an underestimate. Absolutely. 100% of the donations go to Ronald McDonald House, and there's people who use that Family Room every day, with all kinds of emergencies or ongoing illnesses or disabilities that their children go through. And we didn't have to focus on a hotel, or an Airbnb or drive through food. We didn't have to find a laundromat.

We didn't have to figure out where to shower. And when you find yourself in that position, it's so overwhelming. You're worried about the medical bills, which are astronomical in themselves, but what the Ronald McDonald Family Room provided for us was sanity and a place to stay and and be taking care of ourselves so that our baby was the focus and not everything else. My... can I add something?

Melisa and Russell: Yes.

Christin: I think sometimes too, we don't think that things can happen to us, and it's really hard to imagine some emergency that you could find yourself in and that your child could need specialized care, but it could be an accident that you just don't foresee in sports or driving or anything, any time of day that you yourself might need those services so that you can focus on your child. It can happen to anybody. And I think we all could really not just be recipients of what the Ronald McDonald House offers or the Family Room, but that you might yourself might need that someday for your own child.

Melissa: Definitely. I know that, when I was born— I'm not from here. I'm from somewhere else, but they had a Ronald McDonald Family House, and I was premature. And my parents used it because we had to go to another state. It was a better hospital. And so my dad and older brother wouldn't have been able to, like, be as close as they were. And so even though I don't really remember it, I know my parents were super grateful for that resource.

Christin: Absolutely.

Melissa: And it made a scary time less scary and stressful.

Christin: Yeah. Definitely.

Russell: When you're in the hospital, everything can feel kinda sterile, and that's not a a good feeling to have in your in your home and, like, family centered places. So can you talk a little bit about how The Ronald McDonald House provides a feeling of a homey area?

Christin: Yeah. So there's the family room area, which is like a family room. You have your couches and your TV. There's a kitchen where you can help yourself to snacks and meals anytime of day. There's volunteers and some of the staff who make homemade meals, which I remember some nights we had long days in the NICU, and we could just come back to a warm place to stay and a home cooked meal.

And that was humbling. There's also kids who came down. There are other other people throughout the hospital, not just the NICU, but people's children who were in accidents of some sort or just had some long, lifelong conditions that required treatment. And they came in and sat down. I saw people working all the time, and so they could connect to the Internet and do what they needed for work.

They could have a meal. Their other children could come down and pick toys or books or blankets or just relax in a place outside of the sterile hospital environment. So it was very much like a home, and the staff are always there to show you around and help you. So it felt more welcoming than a sterile hospital room.

Russell: Is there anything else you wanna share about your experience at the Ronald McDonald Family Room?

Christin: I think just having peace of mind that we were close to our daughter and that our needs were met was a huge relief. And our family, knowing that we were in such good care and hands, and that we weren't trying to figure out all the medical stuff by ourselves, I think gave them peace of mind, knowing that we were taken care of while our daughter was being taken care of because they think, you know, your child's going through so much and it can wear you down emotionally and mentally and to just have a place to, to gather yourself was important.

Melissa: Thanks again to Christin for coming in and sharing her experience with the Ronald McDonald Family Room. There are resources in the description if you'd like to contribute to the Ronald McDonald Family Room's cause, or you can click on the awareness tab at eiradio.com for more information.

Russell: If you enjoyed today's episode, feel free to share it with your friends and family. And if you want to share feedback, go ahead and send us an email at podcast@eiradio.com. If you don't want to miss out on any future episodes, make sure to subscribe.

Melissa: Thanks for listening, and we'll see you next time on the Riverbend Awareness Project podcast.