Ronald McDonald Family Room celebrates a decade of providing comfort and care

September 22nd, 2022 | Events | News

Ten years ago, on September 24, 2012, the Ronald McDonald Family Room at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital – Madison officially opened its doors. Since that time, this space has provided thousands of families with comfort and care just steps away from their child’s hospital room.

Jessica Urso, manager of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at St. Mary’s Hospital, says having the Family Room inside the hospital allows her team to support NICU families in the best way possible.

“The Ronald McDonald Family Room is a vital resource for our families,” Jessica said. “It allows for a team approach to caring for our patients and seeing the big picture, which includes supporting and providing for the families of our patients who need to feel cared for as well.”

“Nursing is not just about the patient but being there for their loved ones as well who need support during trying times,” she added. “Having this partnership with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Madison allows another level of support to be provided and ensures that we are giving families the tools necessary to be present for their baby.”

The Family Room provides living space, laundry, kitchen facilities and bedrooms for families to use to stay close to their child when they’re in the NICU or Pediatrics unit.

“I love having the Ronald McDonald Family Room as a resource,” said Linda Balthazor, Pediatrics RN. “When our patients come in the middle of the night with nothing prepared for a stay at the hospital, having the Family Room at their disposal in the morning is essential.”

Since opening in 2012, the Family Room has provided more than 9,000 overnight stays for families and a total of more than 50,000 visits. As one of the largest Family Rooms in the world – we are honored and grateful to provide a quiet space for families to rest, reflect and take time for themselves without needing to leave their child in the hospital.

“Families have expressed their ultimate gratitude for having this space available to them,” Jessica said. “Having a baby is a life-changing changing event; having a baby need to stay in the NICU can be scary and unsettling and having something like the Ronald McDonald Family Room that takes a little of the worry away each day is such a wonderful relief.”

These services are offered with the help of a group of 35 dedicated volunteers who allow us to keep the room open to families seven days a week.

Teresa Van Den Wildenberg has been the Ronald McDonald Family Room manager since the Family Room opened. She reflects on a decade of support for families by saying, “It has been an honor and a humbling experience to be part of a program that has had such a significant impact on so many families. We could not do what we do without our outstanding group of volunteers; some have been with us since we opened. Many of our guest families stay connected, or even give back because of the impact RMHC had in their lives.”

As we look back on a decade of serving local and out-of-town families at the Ronald McDonald Family Room, we could not be more grateful to the volunteers, partners, and donors who continue to support this program.


Family Interview

St. Mary’s Ronald McDonald Family Room celebrates 10 years | News |

Family Testimonials

“We were told he did so well in the NICU because we were there, because he had something to fight for, because there was someone always there to love him. Thank you for making that possible.” – Nelson family

“Our daughter’s developmental pediatrician credits our presence at the hospital every day of the four months she was there with how well she is doing now despite the extensive brain injury she sustained in the first few days of her life. It was the Ronald McDonald Family Room that made that possible. Our hearts are full. We are grateful. The Ronald McDonald Family Room was an unexpected blessing in our lives. A hidden gem of hospitality when we needed it most.” – Meg, Family Room guest family

“Thank you to the staff and all of the volunteers who made our NICU journey easier. Being able to be this close to our daughter during her time in the NICU brought us peace of mind and really helped us through this tough time.” – Anonymous

“Thank you to everyone who makes this place possible. This is, truly, the kindest action that anyone can do for us right now – be near our two-day-old premature newborn. Thank you.” – Anonymous

“Without this program, I wouldn’t have been able to be here with my son. I am forever grateful.” – Anonymous

“We have been very impressed with both the amenities and the friendliness of the staff. It has been a welcome relief to be on-site with our baby and not have to worry.” – Anonymous

“It’s impossible to describe what it’s like to be a NICU parent, the feelings of loss, loneliness, fear, and uncertainty. We are grateful beyond words for the support we received from the Ronald McDonald Family Room staff and volunteers. One or both of us were able to stay at the hospital near Annabelle for 59 nights thanks to the presence of a Ronald McDonald Family Room. It was our home and the staff and volunteers became like family. It was so nice to have a place to rest, do laundry and eat, and never have to be far from our daughter.” – Miller family