Brenda Miller.

The ribbon was cut today on the second Ronald McDonald House in central Iowa inside the MercyOne Children’s Hospital in Des Moines.

MercyOne president, Karl Keeler, says it’s an important addition to the hospital.”Starting my career, I started off at a children’s hospital in Colorado and the partnership between children’s hospitals and Ronald McDonald’s House are critical partnerships,” Keeler says. “And it’s amazing the difference it makes not only in the patients’ lives — but in family’s life — and the way you put the families at ease because they can be close to a loved one.”

The central Iowa executive director of the Ronald McDonald House, Brenda Miller, says it offers an important service. “The Ronald McDonald House houses families of ill or injured children. So ages newborn to 21 are able to use the house. Once they are here, they can stay as long as the need exists,” Miller explains.

A room at the Ronald McDonald House.

This new house allows families using the hospital to be much closer and not have to drive to get to the rooms at the other Ronald McDonald House. The house has 14 sleeping rooms, and also includes  kitchen, dinning room, laundry room, play room, laction room and respite room.

Miller says families from around the region will use the facility. “My guess will be we’ll have over 500 a year using this particular facility. We do what we call day guests as well as patients who have rooms here. Our day guests can come in and eat, have a shower, have a nap and just play, whatever they need, and then all of the 14 bedrooms. Some families may stay maybe one night for a procedure — some may stay a year — it just depends.”

She says they ask for a $10 a night donation for the rooms– but that is not required.  “I think one of the most important aspects of a Ronald McDonald House for families is the ability to have other families staying in the house that they can talk to and confide in — because they are all going through the same thing,” according to Miller. “And so, having that kind of support system and others who are going through what they are going through is a key part of their healing.”

Donations helped create the Ronald McDonald House and Miller says  ongoing donations will help keep it running. She says changes donations at the McDonald’s restaurants are part of that. Miller says the money collected in canisters at 61 McDonald’s around central is sent to the Ronald McDonald House. There are two more Ronald McDonald Houses in Iowa, one in Iowa City and one in Sioux City.