By Mary Wade Burnside
Times West Virginian
Steve De Jesus can recall a recent incident in which the new Ronald McDonald Family Room at WVU Children’s Hospital really would have come in handy.
A family had a premature baby that was not doing well.
“They ended up losing the child,” said De Jesus, the CEO and executive director of the Ronald McDonald House in Morgantown.
Before that happened, however, the family would not leave the child’s side.
“They were so committed, they would not come over to the house,” De Jesus said. “They stayed with the child there for about five days, 24 hours a day.”
When the Ronald McDonald Family Room is completed, families like that will have access to a 1,000-square-foot space that will feature a full kitchen, a shower room, a mother’s breastfeeding room, a full-size living room with a big-screen TV, a computer area with Wi-Fi access as well as laptops, and food that will be mostly donated from different organizations.
Ronald McDonald House officials announced the $275,000 project last year and hoped to start construction in January, with completion by the first of April. But after a delay, construction was set to begin last week, with completion sometime in May.
The delay happened when the office of the West Virginia State Fire Marshal asked for changes in the construction plans so the room would meet code.
“It was very minor,” De Jesus said. “A couple of walls came out into the hallway 8 inches more than allowed. So by the time we redid them and sent them back to the fire marshal, it just took time.”
The first Ronald McDonald House was established in Philadelphia in 1974 after the daughter of a Philadelphia Eagles football player was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 3.