Ronald McDonald House coming to Motol

The charity builds houses near hospitals so families can be near sick children

The first house for parents of children with long-term illnesses in the hospital will be built in the Czech Republic.

The Czech branch of Ronald McDonald House Charities has reached an agreement with Motol Teaching Hospital after 15 years of effort. The contract should be signed Feb. 14,

Ronald McDonald House Charities, which was established in 1974, operates alternative living quarters for families so they can be near their sick children, The organization has chapters in 64 countries and operates over 360 houses worldwide.

The charity has been trying for 15 years to find a location in the Czech Republic near a children’s hospital that could be used to provide comfortable housing to families. But the charity faced resistance from local authorities.

Representatives of the charity say that the association of the charity's name with a popular fast food restaurant was one of the stumbling blocks, as entering into an agreement seemed on its surface to be supporting a form of commercial advertising.

Both the international charity and the Czech branch are independent of the restaurant chain, although the chain does offer financial grants and support to the charity.

Marek Šedivý, the director of the charitable foundation for the Czech branch called Dům Ronalda McDonalda, told daily Lidové noviny that some details have not been worked out, and a specific lot has not been chosen. The house that the charity plans to build should have 20 rooms, and construction should begin at the end of 2019 or start of 2020.

Families that use the house will pay a symbolic fee, but families with low budgets will not be excluded. The goal of the charity, according to the website for the main organization, is to provide a place for families to call home so they can stay close by their hospitalized child at little to no cost.

“Our Houses are built on the simple idea that nothing else should matter when a family is focused on the health of their child – not where they can afford to stay, where they will get their next meal or where they will lay their head at night to rest. We believe that when a child is hospitalized the love and support of family is as powerful as the strongest medicine prescribed,” the website states.

Motol Teaching Hospital currently offers families space in a hostel near the children's center, but families have to pay for it and when it is full share rooms with other families. The building dates from the communist era.

The houses built worldwide by Ronald McDonald House Charities are more like substitute homes than a hostel, according to people who have used them. Parents also have the opportunity to meet other families in a similar situation. The houses tend to be just a few minutes from the hospitals and when possible have some garden space.

Children who are not bedridden, but have to be near the hospital for constant chemotherapy or other treatments, can spend time with their family members in the Ronald McDonald House, which has a more relaxed environment than a hospital room.

“Families are stronger when they are together, which helps in the healing process. By staying at a Ronald McDonald House, parents also can better communicate with their child’s medical team and keep up with complicated treatment plans when needed. They can also focus on the health of their child,” the Ronald McDonald House Charities website states.

Doctors also acknowledge that the home-type setting is beneficial for young patients,

Ronald McDonald House Charities has been present in neighboring countries such as Germany, where there are houses in Munich and other locations. People who have used those facilities, including US military families stationed in Germany, have praised the services offered.

Funding for the houses comes from the McDonald’s restaurant chain and from contributions and funds raised at charity events. The local branch of the charity has some Kč 35 million set aside for the project, and the operation of the house planned for Motol should be around Kč 5 million per year.

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