New Ronald McDonald Family Room at Mackay Base Hospital to Support Local Sick Children

Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) North Australia and Mackay Hospital Foundation have announced a joint fundraising campaign to raise $650,000 for a new facility to be constructed at Mackay Base Hospital to support seriously ill and injured children and their families, a Ronald McDonald Family Room.

The Ronald McDonald Family Room proudly supported by MHF will provide a homelike look and feel environment near the Children and Adolescent Unit with free services and the presence of volunteers being key mechanisms to enable family members of hospitalised children to take a break from the wards and increase their well-being.

Research shows that Ronald McDonald Family Rooms improve the physical, psychological and social well-being of family members of seriously ill or injured children in hospital and can help families save on average $37 a day in food and beverage purchases.

Managed by local volunteers, the Ronald McDonald Family Room will contain a lounge area, kitchen and dining facilities, laundry, bathroom and shower, overnight sleeping and play spaces, meaning there is always somewhere the family can unwind, relax and refresh.

There is only one other Ronald McDonald Family Room in North Queensland, located at the Townsville Hospital, and has become a much-loved space, welcoming between 300 – 400 families each month. For families like the Twidale’s, it has provided a welcome respite while only being moments away from life-saving treatment for their teenage daughter, Mackealie.

Leonie and Mackealie's Story

Ronald McDonald Family Room was a place to stop and rest.

Just ten children in all of Queensland suffer from the rare genetic disorder known as ‘pulmonary ciliary dyskinesia’. Mackealie Twidale is one of them. The disorder means hairs in the lungs that usually clear out the mucus do not work.

Mackealie has spent long periods of her life in hospital and even now as a young teenager, Mackealie spends at least a quarter of every year in Townsville Hospital.

“As a parent, when you first get the diagnosis it’s like you’re going through a tunnel,” Leonie says. “You are digging and digging, trying anything and everything to get through. Every bit of your energy goes into that.”

“Because of the Ronald McDonald Family Room, for a tiny minute you get to stop and rest. You walk in and it’s like a home and you can breathe. You can let yourself physically and mentally relax, and your child can do the same. You can regroup and get ready for the next battle.”

RMHC North Australia already supports families from the Mackay region through the Ronald McDonald Learning Program (Mackay region), Ronald McDonald Family Retreat (Palm Cove) and Ronald McDonald House (Townsville) programs. In 2018, over 150 families accessed Ronald McDonald House at Townsville Hospital for a combined 2,246 nights.

“We’re delighted to be expanding our support in the Mackay region, to help more local families than ever before. Through the Ronald McDonald Family Room, we will provide a place for families to stop and rest as well as a welcoming space where sick children can feel a sense of normality away from the clinical areas of the hospital.” - Denise Lumsden, RMHC North Australia Acting CEO.

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