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Tuesday, March 31, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Ronald McDonald House Charities expanding services

At Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, Mike Forness, executive director of Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Inland Northwest, stands in the family room that is mirror of one the nonprofit will be building at Deaconess Hospital, which will include four sleeping rooms for families of pediatric patients at MultiCare/Deaconess. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
At Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, Mike Forness, executive director of Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Inland Northwest, stands in the family room that is mirror of one the nonprofit will be building at Deaconess Hospital, which will include four sleeping rooms for families of pediatric patients at MultiCare/Deaconess. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Anywhere from eight to 19 families stay registered on a waiting list through Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Inland Northwest for accommodations near children being treated at Spokane hospitals.

“A lot of variables can impact that number, seasonally and by diagnosis, but there are always people on the waiting list,” said Mike Forness, the nonprofit’s executive director.

By this June, four new sleeping rooms are expected to open up because of a project to build a Ronald McDonald Family Room inside Deaconess Hospital to mirror its longtime family room facility at Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital.

Additionally, the nonprofit has plans to expand the nonprofit’s overall accommodations for families with children in medical crisis. Many families come here from remote parts of Eastern Washington, Idaho and Montana.

In August, the charity bought property as a potential future expansion location across the street from its Spokane Ronald McDonald House, which can host 22 families at its location on Fifth Avenue near Shriners Hospital and Deaconess.

However, whether the nonprofit expands near its current facility would depend on if it can do a preferred move to build an additional facility on Sacred Heart’s property, Forness said.

“We won’t know until fourth quarter next year 2018 because we’re still exploring options to be on the Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital campus. That’s where right now about 80 to 85 percent of our families come from. We have a goal to be on their campus.

“Sacred Heart has worked diligently to show us some options, and we’re evaluating them.”

Forness said the nonprofit attempted for many years to open a family room facility inside Deaconess. After MultiCare Health System purchased Deaconess and Valley hospitals and Rockwood Clinic in July, its officials quickly approved a new Ronald McDonald Family Room next to Deaconess’ Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

“About 50 people a day use the family room at Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital during the day, and four families can sleep at night.”

Those people clear out rooms each morning, and then the spaces often are used for napping during the day when exhausted parents can take short breaks.

Deaconess officials will relocate classrooms and educational space to make room for the new facility, Forness said. A 1,800-square-foot design for the new family room will have a kitchen, living room, kids’ play area, laundry and adjacent small sleeping rooms very similar to the facility at Sacred Heart.

Construction is expected to begin in February or March at a cost of about $450,000, which MultiCare and Ronald McDonald House Charities plans to share, Forness said.

On April 27, 1987, Spokane’s Ronald McDonald House first opened its doors, offering shelter, food and support to families with children in medical crisis. In the past 30 years, more than 13,000 families from across the Inland Northwest have found refuge within its walls.

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