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Lehi’s Ronald McDonald House seeks community support

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Megan Wallgren | Lehi Free Press

Community support is the fuel that runs the new Ronald McDonald Family Room at the new Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital in Lehi. The charity aims to support families of hospitalized children, and organizers expect the location to serve over 3,000 families yearly. To achieve that, community support is essential.

“As the hospital grows, we want to grow to meet the needs of caregivers and families. We need to build up a volunteer and donor base to support those needs,” said Carrie Romano, CEO of the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) of the Intermountain Area. “We have been delighted to welcome families for free meals lovingly prepared by volunteer groups.” 

With the new children’s hospital at capacity, they have served up to 100 free meals daily to parents at the Ronald McDonald Family Room.

The 3,200-square-foot RMHC Family Room includes four private nap and sleep rooms, laundry facilities, showers, computer access, a living area and a fully stocked kitchen. The space was 80% funded by local donors. The facility caters to the needs of families with children in various inpatient units. It is one of five Ronald McDonald House facilities in Utah.

The Family Room is centrally located on the hospital’s third floor near the Newborn and Pediatric ICUs. 

“This is by design. It’s intended to allow parents to stay within close proximity to their children in these units,” Romano said. “It’s really to give families respite and support their most basic needs so they can actively participate in and support their child’s care and healing.”

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RMHC’s mission is supported by research showing that young patients benefit from having parents nearby and involved in their care. 

“It’s so lovely because there is a ton of research around family-centered care. If mom and dad can have their basic needs met—rest, a shower, clean laundry and a nutritious meal—they can better support their child as they heal,” Romano said. “You don’t want to leave the hospital, but you need to take care of yourself if you want to take care of your child. We are wrapping them in care so they have a soft landing spot while caring for their child.”

Romano said the Family Room has been busy since its opening a month ago, and support is still needed. 

“We’re hoping to fill the meal calendar. People can join with their friends, family, company or church group and sign up to adopt a meal, which means shopping for, preparing and serving a meal for families with children in the hospital. An easy way to give love is through food,” she said.

RMHC also relies on monetary and other donations. 

“We are part of an international network of sister organizations, but the funding stays local, and decision-making is local,” said Romano.

Those wanting to donate time or money to Lehi’s Ronald McDonald Family Room can visit ronaldmcdonalhouseutah.org. The website provides more information on the charity and links to donate and get involved through the adopt-a-meal program and other volunteer opportunities. 

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