This October marks 5 years since the opening of the Ronald McDonald House at the University Children’s Hospital in Kraków. It is the first facility of this kind in Poland, where families of young patients may stay free of charge while they are being treated. Since it has been opened, the House provided accommodation for 433 families, resulting in a total of 47,627 nights spent at the facility.
The Kraków Ronald McDonald House was opened on 14 October 2015. Its main mission is to provide support for families in their time of need. This ‘home away from home’ was the first place in Poland to provide free accommodation for children’s relatives.
‘The Ronald McDonald House in Kraków is one of 377 in the world, but currently the only one in Poland. We’re planning on opening the second one at the Paediatric Hospital of the Medical University of Warsaw in December this year. That one will be the first one in the world to provide children with a kindergarten zone’, said Katarzyna Nowakowska, chair of the board and executive director of the Polish branch of the Foundation.
The Ronald McDonald House provides accommodation for gravely ill children treated at oncological, haematological and cardiac surgery wards of the hospital. This way, children can avoid stress caused by prolonged lack of contact with their families, while parents and guardians can sleep safely knowing their loved ones are right next door.
The 1,200 square metre House features 20 spacious apartments fit for entire families. A common kitchen area, dining room, laundry, relaxation zone, playroom and library are available for the guests’ convenience. Up to 20 families may live at the House at any given moment.
‘Two rooms are adapted to the needs of people with disabilities. The House is located in the middle of a large garden. The greenery, large meadow, trees and the sights of birds flocking into the birdhouse helps instil a sense of calm in the families that stay at the House’, said Dorota Skowerska-Witek, the House manager.House
‘The Ronald McDonald House is the embodiment of the philosophy of providing health care to entire families. Its guests have access to everything that allows them to unwind and properly take care of themselves. Parents staying at the House are more relaxed, which in turn has a positive effect on their children. They know their mom and dad are close, and so they are more likely to cooperate during treatment. A positive mental state also speeds up recovery', said Prof. Krzysztof Fyderek, director of the University Children's Hospital in Kraków.
Volunteers working at the House are also an important aspect of its activities. During the last 5 years, they took care of the House’s guests for a total of 9,038 hours.
The Ronald McDonald Foundation in Poland was established in 2002. It is a member of the Ronald McDonald House Charities network that provides help for hospitals in 65 countries in the world.