Ronald McDonald House helps families of mental health patients


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — West Michigan is quickly becoming a destination for some of the best health care in the country, and that includes mental health care.

Lorna, who 24 Hour News 8 is identifying only by her first name to protect her daughter’s privacy, remembers when her then-16-year-old daughter started struggling with mental health problems a couple of years ago.

“‘I’m really worried about her. I don’t want to just send her home. I want to send her to a hospital,'” Lorna remembers a doctor telling her.

The doctor helped Lorna realize the help they needed was not going to be close to home.

“We live in the Lansing area and there’s just no places for teens,” she said.

When there was an opening at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services in metro Grand Rapids, Lorna didn’t hesitate. She packed a bag for her daughter and drove to West Michigan.

“I got the call and came to Pine Rest and it was about 8 at night, so it was pretty late, and I got her settled in and I thought, ‘OK, what about me?'” Lorna said.

Lorna got in touch with the Ronald McDonald House of Western Michigan. They couldn’t put her up that night, but they got her a hotel room for the following night and then found her a room at their Cedar Street NE location the night after that.

The Ronald McDonald House in Grand Rapids.

“Most children who come to our unit are usually in a crisis situation. They’re in a bad place and they need help right now. It’s so important for our patients to have their families close and for the parents/guardians to be close by so we can meet with them,” Donna Penny, the clinical services manager for Child and Adolescent Services at Pine Rest, said.

A home base at the Ronald McDonald House allowed Lorna to stay in contact with her daughter and remain a source of support through her treatment.

“You can only visit two hours a day at Pine Rest. It’s different than a regular hospital stay. So I had to have something to do in between, some place to go when I wasn’t visiting her,” Lorna said. “She was just so thankful I could come every day twice a day and it was because I could stay here and not have to go home to Lansing.”

The treatment Lorna’s daughter received at Pine Rest was successful. She’s back on track, graduated from high school, is attending community college and is a theater major.

To mark Mental Health Awareness Month, the Ronald McDonald House of Western Michigan is celebrating its long-standing partnerships with local hospitals and organizations that offer mental health care by hosting an open house at the Cedar Street location on May 10 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. There will be tours of the house and refreshments.