New Ronald McDonald House in Lake Nona to Provide Home Away From Home


Orange County will soon be one of six communities nationwide with three separate Ronald McDonald Houses serving its region. Orange County’s third “House that love built,” will break ground near Nemours Children’s Hospital in Lake Nona this fall with an anticipated opening in late 2015.

“Each day at Nemours Children’s Hospital, we see families who have traveled very far for our special kind of care,” said Barbara Meeks, Chief Nurse Executive at Nemours Children’s Hospital. “In just our first- year-and-a-half of operations, our unique medical services have drawn families from 47 out of the 50 United States and 44 different countries.”

According to Meeks, the new Ronald McDonald House will offer families a “home away from home,” allowing them to focus more on their child and less on finding accommodations away from the familiar surroundings of home.

There are currently two Ronald McDonald Houses in Orlando – one on the campus of Arnold Palmer Medical Center and another adjacent to the Florida Hospital for Children. An estimated 1,800 families stay at the Orange County locations to care for their critically ill children annually. Thanks to the region’s prominence as both a tourist destination and a pediatric healthcare destination, the two Ronald McDonald Houses have served families from 62 countries.

More than $2 billion in construction projects have been completed at Medical City since 2006 and continues to plays a significant role in the development of Orange County’s economy creating nearly 30,000 jobs with $2.8 billion in annual wages, generating $460 million in annual tax revenue and spurring $7.6 billion in annual economic activity.

With groundbreaking research underway at the Sanford-Burnham Institute and future University of Florida Research and Academic Center at Lake Nona, coupled with the state-of-the-art medical advances taking place at Nemours Children’s Hospital, Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences and the much heralded SimLEARN National Simulation Center located on the campus of the new Orlando VA Medical Center – Orange County’s Medical City will have a profound impact in Florida as the Southeast’s new research and medical hub.

“We are aware of the great need as there is currently no lodging in Medical City, meaning parents are sleeping in their child’s hospital room, waiting rooms or in their cars simply to be close to their seriously ill children,” said Lou Ann De Voogd, President and CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Florida, Inc.

The new Ronald McDonald House will meet this need by providing 15 bedrooms, healing gardens, common areas and a large kitchen where community members can volunteer their time to assist families of critically ill children.

“We are proud to work with all three pediatric hospitals within the region as Orlando continues to grow as a pediatric healthcare destination,” De Voogd said. “We encourage the Orlando community to get involved with helping us build this new house.”

The mission of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Florida is to find, create and support programs that directly contribute to the health and well-being of children and families. The first Ronald McDonald House opened in Philadelphia in 1974. Today, the organization has programs and homes in 58 countries and regions.

For more information, visit the Ronald McDonald House Orlando’s website.

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