Riverbend Awareness Project

Join us to hear about Amanda’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 about Amanda’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.

Russell: I'm Russell.

Melissa: And I'm Melissa.

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

Melissa: This month we're doing a series on the Ronald McDonald Family Room here in Eastern Idaho. We have Amanda here in studio with us today and she's come in to talk to us about her experience at the Ronald McDonald Family Room.

Russell: Amanda, how did you learn about the Ronald McDonald Family Room?

Amanda: When my son was in the hospital, we we were approached by social work, and they mentioned since we were going to be there for a little while, there was a place downstairs called the Ronald McDonald Family Room that was available for families to use, and I was hesitant to use it. I thought it was more for people who were further out of town than we were, or in more need than we were, and so I didn't go down there for a while. But then we were approached again by a nurse, I think, and she just asked if we wanted to get out of the room and go for a walk and go check out the Family Room, and we ended up doing that.

I had some laundry to do or something. They mentioned that there were laundry facilities, and my son needed to get out of the room. And so we just took a walk, and that's how we first went down there.

Melissa: Had you known about the Ronald McDonald House before that? Or...

Amanda: I had. I had heard of the Ronald McDonald House, and it was always... we were always in a facility where it was kind of where it was off campus, and so it was more for people who needed to stay overnight or, you know, because they were out of state or something like that. And so I had never been in a facility that had it right downstairs, so close and easy to access. And so I had heard of it before and understood that to be different than what it is here.

Russell: What was your experience at the Ronald McDonald's house? What did it look like?

Amanda: You walk in, and you are greeted by a friendly face at the desk, and you sign in, and they're very interested in what they can do to help you be comfortable and to make it feel like you're not in a hospital, make it feel like you are in a homey environment, and they do a great job. You know? You walk in and you're greeted at the desk, and then it opens up into a living room area, and there's a nice fully-stocked, good-sized kitchen, and then there's a dining area with several tables, and a nice bathroom with a shower, and then there's rooms down one hallway for people who have... usually it's babies in the NICU that the parents can't stay, but they need to be close. They can't stay in the room, but they need to be close to their kids. And so they have they have all of that available, and it's beautiful and clean.

And my son was mostly excited about the wall of prizes for the kids that come down. And he was able to pick out— he loves cars— so he was able to pick out a car and a blanket, and they just made him feel cozy and happy and not worried about what was going on with all the doctors and everything upstairs.

Melissa: How did that make you feel as a parent, like, getting to see your son have that space in this moment? You know, that could be kinda stressful, but you, like, got to have that moment where he, like, felt that comfort and that reassurance.

Amanda: So... I'm getting a little bit emotional right now because I remember he was just... you know, it had been a long, hard time in the hospital, and for him to be able to take a break and forget that he was waiting for the doctor to come in or waiting for the nurse to come in and sitting in his bed and not be able to do too much, for him to to be in there and be excited about seeing a nice couch that he could sit on instead of his bed or— he has Down syndrome, and so he was mostly excited about the toys on the wall and he wanted to check things out and he got to pick out his own blanket that was special to him that he still sleeps with.

And it was very special to me as a mother to see him forget where he was and forget that he was not home. It was very nice.

Melissa: Thank you for sharing that.

Russell: So, at the Ronald McDonald House, you're there at the hospital specifically for care for one child. Right? But you still have other children. So how does Ronald McDonald House help out with that?

Amanda: My other kids were able to come, and it's kinda, you know, when you go into a hospital room, they were pretty good size on the pediatric unit, but they were still small. Well, I have five other kids, and for them to all find a place to sit in the room and try not to mess with things that they aren't supposed to mess with and try to be entertained... It doesn't work very well for very long in a hospital room.

But when my husband and my other kids came and we were able to meet them in the Family Room, we were able to prepare a meal. You know, my husband would bring in ingredients, and we would prepare a meal there because they have, like I said, a full kitchen, with an oven and a stove and microwave. And so they have everything that you need to prepare a meal, and we were able to sit in there and relax, and the kids could play and watch TV, and Emmett got to pick a prize for each one of his siblings too. So he loved that. And they also have meals brought in by people around the community, or the workers there will actually prepare meals for people coming in and out of the family room if there's no other outside meals brought in.

And so they were able to come several times and meet us down there and either prepare a meal or have snacks or whatever that were already there and just relax and not have to be confined in that little room and not touch things that you weren't supposed to touch and be able to relax a little bit and see their brother that they were missing.

Melissa: You talked about, like, the kitchen and the prizes and laundry too. Were there other, like, small little details that just made that experience more helpful and more homey that you noticed at the Ronald McDonald House?

Amanda: You know, they had everything that you would need, that you— that I forgot to bring with me or, you know, especially when you go there with your child and you don't expect to stay. You're not... you don't bring shampoo or a razor or anything that makes you feel human when you've been stuck in a hospital room for a couple of days.

And so they have all of those little hygiene items as well as, you know, I said that they had laundry facilities, but they also provide soap and and dryer sheets and stuff like that. Like, you don't have to bring anything in there, or you don't have to feel like you have to go out and buy something, you know, take more time away from your child than you absolutely have to. You have everything right there to be as fast as you need to be in order to get the things done that you need to get done and then get back up and be with your child again.

Russell: I really love that about the Ronald McDonald House. It's just such a cool place. So, over the phone we talked about how you'd had a hospital stay where you knew about the Ronald McDonald House, but you didn't think it was for you, so you didn't use it. Could you just kind of contrast hospital stays where you were using the the Ronald McDonald House versus hospital stays where you did not use Ronald McDonald House?

Amanda: Well, when my son Emmett was little, he was born a couple months early, and we had to stay in the hospital for about 3 months. And I was there basically all day every day.

I would go, you know, out to lunch with my other kids or my husband occasionally, but mostly I was there. And I just stayed in the NICU with him, and it was in a different state. And they told me that there was a Ronald McDonald House, but I didn't really look into it much because I just figured my husband's close enough to bring me stuff if I need to. You know, I kind of just was like, no. I'm focused on my kid.

I don't need anything. I don't— you know, me, personally, I don't need anything. I'm focused on my baby right here, and I want to be right here. But I know if they would have had a facility like they do here, or if I would have known more about it, I would have utilized it because you are so focused. You are so focused on what's going on, and it's very stressful, especially when you're overwhelmed by medical stuff.

I'm actually an RN, and I still... you know, when it's your own child, you get overwhelmed, and you don't know how much stress you're under until you kinda step away a little bit. And your child needs you to not be stressed. They need you to be strong. And to have the Ronald McDonald Room, it was a good opportunity for me to just breathe a little bit, to just feel like I wasn't in the hospital, to get a snack, or to get something for my son that took his mind off of being being stuck where he was. But when I didn't have that, I mean, I didn't know what I was missing, but I feel like looking back, it would have made the stay so much more... so much less stressful because I would have been able to just move out of that situation for, you know, half hour at a time or something and then go back in rejuvenated.

And I definitely felt like that was useful when I stayed with him this time.

Melissa: What would you say to parents or family members who have that opportunity of going to the Ronald McDonald House, but they're still kind of unsure about whether or not they should use that facility?

Amanda: I was hesitant because I felt like there might be people who are in more need than me. And so I would leave those resources and that opportunity for other people who who are in more need than I was. I have a good family support system.

We're, you know, just over an hour away from the hospital, so it's not... I mean, it's a drive, but it's not a huge deal for my husband to bring me something if I absolutely need it. And so I talked myself out of it for a for a long time. But once I started using it, I realized how they're there to help you out just, I mean, in so many little ways, and they are so excited to be able to do that for people. Everybody who works down there is just thrilled to see you when you come in, and they want to lighten your burden in any way that they can. And if you are hesitant— if your child is in the hospital and struggling, you're struggling too.

And I would tell anybody who is in that same situation, don't hesitate. If you... if you're like me and you're like... and you're trying to be tough and you just say, okay. No. I don't need a break. I'm here for my kid, and my kid's the one going through all this.

I don't need a break. But just going in there, just stepping into the room, and getting a juice out of the fridge or just seeing something different than the hospital— it makes such a difference mentally and physically. I mean, you just feel yourself just relax just a little bit, and then you can go back into the reality of the situation that you're dealing with. But I would say use it.

I don't care if your family is five minutes away or two hours or the next state. They are there to help, and they want to. They want to ease your burden in any way that they can, and I am so grateful for the friendships that I have because of the Ronald McDonald Room. I know that the other families that I saw there frequently were so grateful for the facilities, and you can see on their faces that their burdens were lighter.

Russell: Did you have to pay for anything? I mean, the facilities are there for you to use. You can use the stove and everything, but did they have cooking essentials that you could use? Did they have soap for the washing machine? Could you talk about that a little bit?

Amanda: So that was something that I wasn't sure of when I went down for the first time.

I wasn't sure, you know, if I needed quarters for the laundry or if I needed to reimburse them for any anything that I was using. And no, they absolutely just have everything down there that you might need for free and just to help. They just want to be there to help and all the items have been donated by the community or paid for by the Ronald McDonald charities. And it's all to assist you in the hard times that you're having in the hospital. And as far as the kitchen, they have... I don't know about any other Ronald McDonald House anywhere else, but this one was wonderful in that they had spices and they had cooking essentials, you know, milk and eggs and butter and stuff like that if you wanted to make some cookies or if you wanted to make dinner and you, you know like, my husband would bring in stuff to make things, but then we'd have forgotten a thing or two.

And so instead of having him run to the store, they had it right there for us. And so, no, they have everything there for you to use, and you don't have to reimburse them at all.

Russell: Thanks for coming in, Amanda.

Amanda: You're welcome. Thank you for doing this. I want to help any way that I can, because they— like, like I said, they lightened my burden. So if I can help in any way, I I want to give back to that.

Russell: Thanks again to Amanda 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.

Melissa: If you enjoyed today's episode, feel free to share it with friends and family. If you wanna share feedback, go ahead and send us an email at podcast@eiradio.com. And to not miss out on any future episodes, please subscribe.

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