A space for parents with babies in the UAMS neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) has been transformed into the first Ronald McDonald Family Room in central Arkansas. The grand opening ceremony was held Jan. 31 in the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Hospital Lobby Gallery. The celebration marks the end of a four-month construction process by Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkansas (RMHCA) that converted space on the fifth floor of UAMS Medical Center into the Ronald McDonald Family Room at UAMS. The new 2,000-squarefoot space will be staffed and operated by RMHCA and will feature four overnight rooms for parents and siblings of patients in the NICU and a common area for day use by all NICU families.
“The Ronald McDonald Family Room is a great extension of RMHCA’s mission that has been serving families with critically ill children for the past 39 years,” said RMHCA Board Chair Sam Baxter. “Thanks to this partnership with UAMS, families with babies in the NICU will now be able to stay together and be more involved throughout their baby’s hospitalization.”
UAMS serves families from across Arkansas, and babies often stay in the NICU for weeks or months. While parents have been able to stay with their babies in their room, the NICU has not been able to accommodate overnight stays by families with older children. The neonatal unit has 58 patient rooms and can serve up to 64 patients at a time. Through this collaboration, more than 1,000 families with children in the UAMS NICU will be served each year. “The new Ronald McDonald Family Room will help siblings feel at home and provide comfort and respite, a place to connect with other families,” said Sara Peeples, MD, medical director of the UAMS NICU. “We are grateful to Ronald McDonald Charities of Arkansas for providing needed support for our families.”
Major donors include Windgate Charitable Foundation, Susie and Charles Morgan, RMHC Global, The J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation, Clark Family Foundation Inc., Jeanne Andrews, the Sunderland Foundation, RMHCA Board of Directors, local McDonald’s owners, the Charles A. Frueauff Foundation, Windstream, The Trinity Foundation, Nabholz Charitable Foundation, Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects, and Tarkett.