Cook Wealth Management Group

Ronald McDonald House – Serving the Triangle for Over 30 Years

Since 1980, the Ronald McDonald House of Durham has served families of hospitalized, critically ill children by providing them food, housing, amenities, and fellowship.

The House hosts up to 30 families, with 22 family bedrooms, 7 long-term bone marrow transplant suites and an offsite apartment close to Duke University Medical Center. Tenants of the House receive the comforts of home – private bedrooms, inviting community spaces, daily home-cooked meals and a stocked kitchen, a play room, computer room and laundry facilities – as well as a network of support through interactions with other families, staff, and volunteers. Families may also participate in activities like weekly game nights, outings to local sporting events, tutor programs, and pet therapy. The Ronald McDonald House of Durham even provides volunteer transportation services to help families get to the pharmacy or run other errands.

In 2010, the Ronald McDonald House of Durham served over 1,200 families.

In addition to the House, The Ronald McDonald Family Room,  just steps away from the pediatric and neo-natal intensive care units on the pediatric floor of Duke University Medical Center, is available to families of hospitalized children who live in the local area, as well as families who have traveled long distances.  Accessible 365 days a year, these Family Rooms offer parents a comfortable living room, stocked kitchenette, showers and bathrooms, laundry services and computers to stay in touch with family, friends and the workplace. In November 2010, an additional Family Room was opened at WakeMed Children’s Hospital.

Bill Donovan, Executive Director of Ronald McDonald House of Durham since January 2010, graciously agreed to answer a few questions:

How is Ronald McDonald House of Durham funded?

McDonald’s and RMH Charities of NC provide 15% of our annual budget; 85% comes from individual donations, grants, and our special events

How do you see families benefit the most from what Ronald McDonald House of Durham offers?

Families staying at the Ronald McDonald House of Durham often say that the emotional support they receive from other families and our staff is the most appreciated gifts of the House. In addition, our families could not afford to stay in hotels or other alternate housing while their children are undergoing treatment at the Hospital. Without the Ronald McDonald House, most families would be staying in the hospital lobby, their child’s hospital room or even their cars. The House provides children with access to world-renowned medicine that they would otherwise be unable to receive.

The mission statement states that you “allow families to focus on the health and wellbeing of their critically ill children by keeping families together who are in need of a community of hope, comfort and empathy.” How have you seen “keeping families together” accomplish the mission?

The Ronald McDonald House of Durham strives to improve patient success by enabling families to be active in their child’s medical care. The importance of keeping families together in the face of a critical illness has been supported by a variety of research. In a study of 586 patients, researchers found that children accompanied by parents had a hospital stay 31% shorter than patients with non-resident parents.Additionally, a 2007 study at Emory University found that family presence in the ICU reduced patient stays by 50% and medical errors by 54%.Studies have also shown that parents benefit from speaking with other parents of children having the same or other critical illness.3

Are there any plans for expansion?

We will be expanding on our current property in late 2011. The expansion will add an additional 28 suites and nearly double our capacity. The expansion will cost $6.7M, and we will launch a capital campaign in February 2011. We hope to break ground late 2011.

More information about tRonald McDonald House of Durham


1 O’Connor, P. & Taylor, M. R. “Resident Parents and Shorter Hospital Stay.” Archives of Disease in Childhood, 62.2 (1989): 274-6.
2 Landro, Laura. “ICUs’ new message: Welcome, families.” Wall Street Journal. 12 July 2007.
3 Kirschbaum, M. S. “Needs of parents of critically ill children.” Dimensions of Critical Care Nursing, 9.6 (1990): 344-352.
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