COVID-19: Mission Forward

Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Capital Region is moving to the final phase of reinstating services at the Ronald McDonald House! This is news worth celebrating!

Since receiving word on Friday, March 13 that admissions to the Ronald McDonald House were going to be restricted due to COVID-19, we have taken many precautions to ensure the fulfillment of our mission. We have never wavered in our commitment to protecting the health and safety of children, guest families, volunteers, staff, board, and members of our community within the Capital Region.

Immediately, we decided to find alternative ways to provide for families whose children were receiving treatment at the Bernard & Millie Duker Children’s Hospital at Albany Med. Drawing on support from local businesses, we were able to accommodate each family in need with housing at nearby hotels and meals provided by local restaurants.

Boy and mom stand outside hotel provided by RMHC-CR during COVID-19
Hospital staff carry meals from RMHC-CR into Albany Med

RMHC-CR would like to recognize Sunmark Federal Credit Union for first reaching out with $10,000 earmarked for covering these costs. TownePlace Suites and Hilton Garden Inn stepped up with discounted pricing. Feed Albany joined the effort early on to provide more than 1,200 meals for RMHC families. Several other individuals, foundations, restaurants, and local businesses added to the effort, allowing us to provide 1,410 nights of stay for 99 families so that each family could be by their child’s side throughout their treatment.

The Ronald McDonald Family Room has remained closed during the pandemic. In January, we introduced a new program — the Hospitality Cart — to extend the comforts of the Family Room throughout the hospital. Prior to March 13, the Hospitality Cart provided services to 168 children and families. Thanks to the compassion of medical professionals at Albany Med, the Hospitality Cart continued to serve families throughout the pandemic. Child Life Specialists took over for RMHC-CR volunteers, maneuvering the cart through the children’s hospital and bringing healthy snacks, game, books and personal care items to an additional 473 children and families. The cart continues to operate thanks to the leadership of Dr. Barbara Ostrov, Chair of Pediatrics and RMHC-CR Board Member.

On June 29, we began a 4-phase process of reinstating operations at the Ronald McDonald House. With limited capacity, increased safety measures that include new training, cleaning and disinfecting procedures, wellness checks, and social distancing, the House has now served 37 families since the start of Phase 1. We entered Phase 2 on July 13, safely providing respite while continuing to rely on hotels and restaurants for families who were not eligible to stay at the House under the restrictions of the early phases. Phase 3 began on August 26, allowing essential RMHC-CR volunteers to return to the House for the first time since March!

Now, we are preparing for the final phase of the House’s reinstatement. This phase will allow us to bring back all our regular volunteers and staff with a number of changes in place to maintain an environment that is safe for everyone. Below is a summary of the conditions that will remain in place as we move forward:

Husband and wife check in to the Ronald McDonald House during COVID-19

  • Wellness checks for everyone who enters the House (staff, volunteers, guest families)
  • Return to Work / Return to Volunteer training on new safety procedures
  • Meal Program resumes, limited to a maximum of 4 people, for experienced meal teams
  • Registered visitors may come to the House
  • Common areas limited to use by 1 guest family at a time with disinfecting between uses
  • RMHC-CR remains in communication with Bernard & Millie Duker Children’s Hospital to maintain awareness of advancements in testing & treatment and of current epidemiological data throughout the Capital Region, including New York and nearby states as reported by departments of health
  • Hotel accommodations may be provided as indicated to best meet the needs of individual families

For more information, including personal health and safety resources and ways that you can help, please visit our COVID-19 Updates page.