COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The Ronald McDonald House in Columbus has grown to be the largest in the world, with 137 rooms for families to stay, sometimes months at a time, and often the house is at full capacity.
“What we try to do is make it like someone’s house, but we have 137 families here, so it’s a big house,” said Dee Anders, Executive Director of the Ronald McDonald House in Columbus.
Thousands of families each year stay at the house in what is often the most difficult and draining time they’ll ever face as they watch their children go through medical treatment.
Jacquelyn Fliehman, of Michigan, has been staying at the Ronald McDonald House since December, when she brought her baby girl, MaryJane, to Nationwide Children’s Hospital to be treated for bronchopulmonary dysplasia or BPD.
“Nationwide Children’s is the only place in the nation and if I’m correct the world that has a BPD unit,” said Fliehman as she sat down with NBC4’s Ellie Merritt in the music room of the Ronald McDonald House to share how much the house and volunteers mean to her.
“We would have nothing. We would be living at the bedside going crazy… It’s hard to do that. It’s hard to get away and take care of yourself. The nurses and doctors there are so awesome that I can leave and come here and have a place to heal and take care of myself,” said Fliehman, who left behind her job as a music teacher in Michigan to be close to her daughter at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
“It’s difficult to be day to day in this NICU, but there are places that we can vent and decompress and this room is my favorite room because I’m a music teacher,’ said Fliehman.
Anders shared how critical the Ronald McDonald House is to families coming from all over the country to have their children treated at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
“When you get to sit down with the families and realize that you’re making their day so special just by making a meal, you get a lot out of it,” said Anders of the nutritious meals that are made by volunteers for families.
The NBC4 team is coming together to volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House for its Nexstar “Founder’s Day of Caring” on June 16th, making breakfast for families staying at the house.