GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — An organization providing a home away from home for the families of some of West Michigan’s littlest patients marked a milestone Tuesday.
A total of 10,000 families have now stayed at the Ronald McDonald House of Western Michigan while their children were being treated at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.
The accommodations can provide a big financial break for families in the fight of their lives.
Among them is Jerry Goosby of Muskegon. She’s been staying at the Ronald McDonald House in downtown Grand Rapids since early November.
Goosby’s twin boys were born prematurely. One of them has had bleeding on his brain and the other had respiratory issues. They’re both in the neo-natal intensive care unit at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.
“This is Christopher. He had his third surgery yesterday,” said Goosby, standing next to her son’s incubator.
She worries about her babies’ futures and the challenges they’ll face. But right now one thing she’s not worrying about is being near her infants while they fight.
“We take care of three meals a day, transportation, private room, private bath, laundry facilities, linens, towels, everything they would need, said Marcie Lewis, executive director of Ronald McDonald House of Western Michigan.
Lewis says one of the blessings of the job is having her office in the same building where the patients’ families live. She gets to see and hear how families lift up each other during the hardest hours of their lives.
“Even though the children may have different diagnoses, they’re all going through the same trauma,” said Lewis.
“It’s like being at home and probably a little better because you don’t have to be bothered by people you don’t want to be bothered with,” added Goosby.
The Ronald McDonald House is celebrating its latest milestone with new renovations, including heated sidewalks and a new generator.
Meanwhile, Goosby is celebrating the lives of her two miracle boys, and being able to keep her daughter close while the family begins their lives together.
“I think the only thing keeping me sane is my daughter. (She) keeps me sane for the boys and I pray,” said Goosby.
The Ronald McDonald House of Western Michigan opened 27 years ago. In 2015, the house welcomed 476 guests; approximately 42 percent of them were relatives of neonatal patients.