Tami’s Blog: New Year: New Space!

Tami’s Blog
New Year: New Space!

Published Feb. 1, 2022

I am so excited to announce some big news for us here at RMHC-KC: the grand opening of our new four-bedroom Ronald McDonald Family Room at Overland Park Regional Medical Center! (Whew! That’s a mouthful.) As we approach the opening, I find myself with some mixed emotions over what it means for us to have this new space. Joy and relief, of course, that we’ll be able to serve more families that need us…and if I’m being honest, I also feel sadness for all the OPRMC families we haven’t been there for in the past.

Families like the Williams. Brenda and Vernon (now a board member for RMHC-KC) went through an extremely scary time 18 years ago after their son Noah was born, when he spent 92 days in the NICU. And families like Eric and Eliza Hodes — brother and sister-in-law of our director of marketing Emily Gretzinger — who delivered twins at 23 weeks. One of their boys, Whit, was stillborn, and his twin, sweet Jude, lived for five weeks. It breaks my heart that these families, and everyone else who’s had a baby in the OPR Neonatal ICU, had to go through that without the extra care and support we could have provided.

I also know that it takes time to best ascertain where we’re needed. We always have our eye on healthcare trends and are constantly assessing the needs of the pediatric populations in the Greater Kansas City area. Our mission means we’re always looking to the future and thinking: where will families with sick children need us next? (Continue reading below)

And that’s why I’m so glad that there’s now another place where we’ll be able to serve families with sick children. With the second-largest NICU in the region, OPRMC was a natural fit for us. With the new Ronald McDonald Family Room and its four bedrooms, we’ll be able to accommodate an estimated 1,400 overnight stays per year, in addition to thousands of guests who will use the space for a day visit of respite, support, and comfort.

OPRMC nurses, Paige Spiva and Dana Anthony, and me in the new Ronald McDonald Family Room.

I want to make sure I note that we are still going strong with our three Ronald McDonald Houses located near Children’s Mercy, as well as our seven-bedroom Ronald McDonald Family Room inside the hospital. We have a total of 87 bedrooms to serve families of patients there, and as we continue to look towards what’s next in KC pediatric healthcare, I suspect we’ll need to grow in that location again soon.

As we look forward to the new Ronald McDonald Family Room in Overland Park, we talked to a few of the NICU nurses there, who are grateful to have a new space for families they serve.

Like Paige Spiva, who said, “The Family Room will be a great place for our parents to unwind, and I’m hoping this also helps families to connect with each other and find support during their child’s often-lengthy hospitalizations.”

We also heard from NICU nurse Dana Anthony, who agreed: “The Family Room will be such an amazing addition at OPR. We have a lot of parents that are with us all day long and this will give them a chance to get away from the NICU without being too far away. I am really excited about having a place for our families to rest.” 

As I said at the beginning of this piece, I’ve been thinking about those families who have had babies in the NICU at OPR before we were there.  I’ve also been thinking a lot about the families that we will meet and serve in this space over the course of the next weeks, months, and years.  

That moment when you first have your baby can be magical or terrifying—or both. It gives me goosebumps to realize that there are expectant parents now who will soon need the NICU and the new Family Room—they just don’t know it yet. We will be there, ready to serve them.