Ronald McDonald House to move to new location

The new house will have double the number of rooms and extra amenities.
A sign stands at the new Ronald McDonald House construction site at 3501 Lansing Ave. The new location will be closer to the MU Women's and Children's Hospital.

Plans for the construction of a relocated Ronald McDonald House in Columbia are underway after the Sept. 28 groundbreaking of the land on which it will be built.

Due to the current house’s outdated structure and flood damages, the 28-year-old haven, which provides a safe and inexpensive place for family members of hospital patients to stay, will be torn down. The new house is set to be located on Lansing Avenue next to the MU Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

“Being an academic medical center with our multi-disciplinary programs that support patients from all over Missouri, we have patients from every county in Missouri travel to Columbia to receive medical care,” MU Health Care spokesman Matt Splett said.

Since the families who stay in the house are not from Columbia, those without cars have to rely on a shuttle, which now runs three times a day to and from the house. Families typically stay at the hospital the entire day.

“Once we move to the new location, it will take a lot of burden off of the families who will be able to just walk across the parking lot,” said Barb King, director of development and communications for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mid-Missouri.

The house is currently located three miles from University Hospital on Stadium Avenue. In September 2010, the patient units for women and children were moved from University Hospital to the MU Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

“We’ll be right next to the hospital and parents will be able to go visit their children in the hospital and then come back to the house for lunch or a nap,” King said.

The house endured flooding damage in the summer of 2009 that ruined the basement’s family room area. King said the damages were not fixed because they knew a new house was necessary.

“We really couldn’t justify fixing the foundation of this house because it’s very expensive when the money is better spent putting toward building the new house,” she said.

MU made the house's new location possible by offering to lease the land for $1 per year for the next 50 years. But the university will not fund the building of the house — Ronald McDonald Charities of Mid-Missouri is still raising money to make construction possible.

“We don’t have a projected date of when the new house will be done since we are still fundraising,” King said.

The house will cost approximately $2.6 million to build and the charity has already raised $1.1 million, which was enough to break ground on its construction.

King said the money comes from businesses and corporations in the community. The local owners of McDonald’s are strong supporters of the Ronald McDonald charities as well.

“We’re not government funded so we rely on the good will of the people in our community,” King said.

The new house will be more accommodating in many ways to families who stay in it. It will have 18 rooms, with two to three rooms per bathroom. Currently, there are nine rooms and two to three bathrooms per room. The house will have an apartment for families with longer stays and areas for kids to play.

"It truly is a home away from home," Brooke Hartman said in a news release. "The Ronald McDonald House gave us the normalcy that we needed when we had a sick child and our life was not normal."

King said the new house will be wheelchair accessible. It will also have the capability to expand if needed in the future.

“It’ll be an opportunity to better serve the guest families who utilize our services,” Ronald McDonald House Executive Director Melody Bezenek said.

The construction will take place in two phases: The first involves building the shell and the second involves furnishing the house. King said she anticipates phase one will be done in about six months.

Correction appended: In the Oct. 15 issue of The Maneater, there was an error in the story, “Ronald McDonald House relocates for convenience.” We printed that the new house will have two to three bathrooms per room, but the new house will have two to three rooms per bathroom. The Maneater regrets the error.

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