Ronald McDonald House: Expansion Doubles Capacity, Drops Waitlist

By 
Scott Stewart
The Daily Record

The Ronald McDonald House in Omaha was forced to turn away about 1,600 families over the past two years.

A recently completed remodel­ing and expansion project, which doubled the Omaha house’s capac­ity, should eliminate the nonprofit’s waitlist and help provide assistance to even more families.

Executive Director Lindsey Rai Kortan said the staff wants to leave families more whole than when they arrive, and they want to be able to provide services to anyone seeking their support.

“Our intention is to not have to turn families away,” Kortan said.

The $10.3 million project has added 20,000 square feet, includ­ing 20 new guest rooms, renovat­ing 18,000 square feet, Kortan said. An in-house treatment center is still being finished. The renovated and new spaces were all on dis­play Saturday during a public open house and community fair.

The Ronald McDonald House in Omaha opened in 1994 with 10 guest rooms, and it doubled its ca­pacity to 20 in 2000. Kortan said the staff reached out to area hospi­tals about future expansion, so the expanded space should be adequate for the next 25 years.

A typical stay is between 30 to 45 days, but that’s an average that includes overnight stays to lon­ger hauls, exceeding a year. A lot of families are spending 10 to 15 months residing at the house. 

“It’s longer than most other chapters in the United States, justgiven the treatment schedule that these kiddos have,” Kortan said.

Many patients at the Omaha house are seeking treatment for small bowel conditions, and Nebraska Medicine is a national leader in transplant and rehabilita­tion for those conditions, drawing families from across the U.S.

The Omaha facility is the first Ronald McDonald House in the country to have an in-house medical treatment center. The 3,000-square-foot center will be operated inde­pendently by several area medical partners.

The project also added office space for the nonprofit Angels Among Us, which provides finan­cial support to many families at the house.

David F. Mercer, an organ transplant surgeon for Nebraska Medicine and current board presi­dent for the Ronald McDonald House Charities, said that the house also welcomes new ideas.

“This is a center of innovation. If you can come up with other ideas, if you can help us, we can make it a reality,” Mercer said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony last week, ac­cording to a release.

Kortan said that the Ronald McDonald House is teaming up with WhyArts, Completely KIDS and several other community part­ners. She said she appreciated the efforts the charity’s board chair­man, J. Scott Searl, an attorney at Baird Holm who led the nonprofit through legal hurdles throughout the project.

Find more information on the Ronald McDonald House Charities at makeitorindary.com. Find more on how to give to the house, includ­ing volunteering, monetary dona­tions and in-kind gifts of new mate­rials, at rmhcomaha.org.

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