The first Ronald McDonald House in the western suburbs will open in 2015 near Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield, providing a "home away from home" for families of hospitalized children.
The nonprofit Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana has entered a partnership with Cadence Health to construct its fifth house in the Chicago area, officials said.
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Dubbed "Ronald McDonald House near Cadence Health -- CDH Campus," the facility will provide low-cost or free housing for families who travel great distances to get treatment for seriously ill or injured children at CDH, Delnor Hospital in Geneva and a cancer treatment campus in Warrenville.
"We're ecstatic," said Mike Vivoda, president and CEO of Cadence Health. "It is a phenomenal service that's going to be afforded to patients and their families that have extended stays or need a respite."
Cadence Health will make an official announcement on Monday. The house is planned for a site along Winfield Road, directly west of CDH.
Since the first Ronald McDonald House opened in 1974, more than 300 such facilities have been built around the world.
Locally, there are four houses -- two in Chicago and one each near Maywood and in Oak Lawn. There's also a Ronald McDonald Family Room that opened last year at Edward Hospital in Naperville.
The idea of bringing a house to the western suburbs "rose to the top of the priority list" in part because of Cadence's cancer treatment campus, which includes a cutting-edge proton therapy center CDH opened with ProCure Treatment Centers, said Doug Porter, CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana.
"The primary driving factor was that there was a demonstrated need (for a house)," Porter said.
With the proton therapy center in nearby Warrenville, Porter said he's expecting many out-of-state families to benefit from having a Ronald McDonald House in Winfield.
"Insurance doesn't pay for hotels," Porter said. "A family from Kansas may desperately want to bring their child here for medical treatment. But if they can't afford the cost of an average hotel and food, they can't come."
The Ronald McDonald Houses in the Chicago area "allow families to eat, sleep and find the emotional support they need," officials said. While the organization suggests a $10-per-night donation, it never turns away families unable to pay.
"Being surrounded by family is an important part of the healing process," said Vivoda, adding that the Winfield location will help "alleviate stress on families and allow them to focus on their child's health care needs."
Porter said he's pleased that the house will be built. "I am happiest for the families that will use this for the next 50 years," he said.
The project caught the attention of village officials earlier this month when a building was demolished on the anticipated site. "It's going to be prestigious for Winfield to have a Ronald McDonald House in town," Trustee Tim Allen said.
The design of the house hasn't been finalized, but it's expected to cover 18,000 square feet with at least two floors. There will be private bedrooms and bathrooms for 12 families, along with a communal living room, kitchen, dining room, recreational spaces and laundry facilities.
Porter said the exterior of the house will fit the neighborhood, although the main goal is to design a building that meets the needs of the families who will use it.
"There's no golden arches out there," Porter said. "There's no big, huge sign. This is really a home for the families."
Porter said officials hope to break ground early next year and open the house by early 2015.
In the meantime, several groups are beginning fundraising efforts.
"To bring the first Ronald McDonald House to the western suburbs is big news," said Chris Hensley, president of the Cadence Health Foundation, which seeks philanthropic gifts to advance health care.
The foundation will support a push by Central DuPage Hospital's Auxiliary to raise $5 million of the house's estimated $5.6 million price tag. Ronald McDonald House Charities will raise the rest of the money.
While Ronald McDonald House Charities will manage and operate the house, Hensley said Cadence Health Foundation will assist efforts to raise money for operational expenses. In addition, roughly 1,400 residents who volunteer at CDH and Delnor will be invited to volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House.
"There are a lot of opportunities for us to really deeply engage the communities that we serve in being a partner in the life of this house," Hensley said. "That's pretty exciting."