Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly turns the first sod on the New Children’s Hospital Family Accommodation Unit

by Gazette Reporter
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New Ronald McDonald House to offer accommodation for 52 families, a 160% increase on the current facility at CHI Crumlin

April 11, 2024: The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, and the CEO of the HSE, Bernard Gloster, joined teams from Ronald McDonald House Charities Ireland (RMHC), Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) and the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPHDB) today for a sod turning ceremony to mark the commencement of construction of the new family accommodation unit which will be located across from the main entrance to the new children’s hospital.

The new family accommodation unit will provide accommodation for 52 families every night, who have children receiving treatment in the new children’s hospital. As well as bedrooms that will accommodate families of all sizes, there will also be communal kitchen facilities where families can prepare meals, as well as shared common areas such as living rooms, playrooms, reading rooms, a laundry facilities and outdoor spaces.

It will be connected to the new children’s hospital at basement level, providing direct access for families who are visiting their loved ones at any time of the day or night.  

Ronald McDonald House Charities Ireland will operate the new facility when it opens. It has operated the Ronald McDonald House at CHI Crumlin for 20 years during which time more than 5,000 families from across the island of Ireland have availed of its services.

Currently 20 families are accommodated at any one time in the Ronald McDonald House at CHI Crumlin.  The new Ronald McDonald House will more than double the accommodation available for families, with its 52 bedrooms, and enhanced communal areas.

Clancy Construction has been appointed to design and build the new facility, with construction expected to be complete by Q3 2025.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly TD said; “I am delighted to be here today to mark the commencement of construction of this new facility, and to be marking another positive milestone in the delivery of the new children’s hospital project. We know from the families that provision of family accommodation removes a significant amount of stress and anxiety at what is already an anxious and upsetting time for children and their parents or guardians. We are delighted to be partnering with RMHC Ireland again on this project.”

CEO of the HSE Bernard Gloster, said; “The proximity of this new family accommodation unit, together with the basement level corridor connected to the new children’s hospital, will mean that families have direct access to their children whenever they are spending time in the new children’s hospital. With 52 rooms, there is a significant increase in capacity for this in-demand service and that is very welcome. RMHC Ireland has been providing incredible and important support for families for decades. The charity has provided a fantastic and valuable service at CHI Crumlin for over two decades, ensuring that families can stay close to their children when they are in hospital.”

Marian Carroll, Chairperson, RMHC Ireland, said; At the Ronald McDonald House in Crumlin, we have provided accommodation, care and support for over 5,000 families from across the island of Ireland. In our new Ronald McDonald House, we will embrace and hug even more families offering them love, solace, strength, and a place they can call home at the most difficult of times. Our annual capacity will increase from 300 families to up to 800. Our larger House will allow us to provide additional family centred care spaces that are essential for families. As we celebrate 20 years of unwavering service, comfort and support for families at our House in Crumlin, today, we proudly celebrate the addition of a new chapter—a Ronald McDonald House in Rialto, a House and a Home, where love will heal, and courage will thrive.”

Dr Jim Browne, Chair of the CHI Board; said; “At CHI we understand the importance of being able to stay close to your child when they are in hospital.  That is why in the new children’s hospital every single inpatient bedroom will have a bed for a parent or guardian to stay in the room with their children over night. This separate family accommodation unit across the plaza, will allow families to stay close to their loved one which is a tremendous support, especially for children who are staying in the hospital for long periods of time. I want to thank Marian and the team at RMHC Ireland for their partnership over the past two decades and to thank them for their commitment and tireless efforts to bring their vision for an enhanced offering for families to the new children’s hospital.”

David Gunning, Chief Officer, NPHDB, said; “We’ve been pleased to work with RMHC, CHI and the HSE to reach this important day for the family accommodation unit. We’ve worked collaboratively to ensure that it will be designed and constructed to provide long-lasting and quality accommodation will be available to families for many years to come. We look forward to working with Clancy Construction on this project.”

Chris Chambers, Dublin Regional Director, Clancy Construction, said; “We are delighted to have been appointed to design and build this important project and we look forward to working in collaboration with all the stakeholders to bring it to completion next year.”

Also in attendance at the sod turning was the O’Loughlin family from Wexford. Darragh O’Loughlin (7) is a patient of CHI and his family have stayed at The Ronald McDonald House at CHI Crumlin for periods of time when needed.

His mother Rose Marie O’Loughlin said; “Darragh was born in Wexford General Hospital and after only 24 hours it was clear he needed additional care and was transferred by ambulance to CHI Crumlin. At 2 days old he had his first investigative Cath Lab procedure and was scheduled for Open Heart Surgery. We were far from home, terrified and had not planned for this. We got a room in the Ronald McDonald House, and it is difficult to put into words what a difference this made us. We had 2 other children at home and a room in the House meant that we could all stay together, sit down to a meal together, play in the playroom and visit the hospital. Darragh ended up in hospital for 19 weeks at that time and requires ongoing follow up care. I cannot express the difference Ronald McDonald House makes to our family and thousands of families like us.”

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