Essentia Health has announced plans for the first ever Ronald McDonald House in Duluth. The 5 bedroom home will be used to help families of pediatric patients receiving care at Essentia Health-St. Mary's Medical Center.

The Ronald McDonald house will be located next to St. Mary's Medical Center on the 4th floor of Essentia's Fifth Avenue Building at 503 E Third St. Construction will begin next month, and they plan for it to be open this fall.

Ronald McDonald Houses provide a temporary place to stay for the family when a child is receiving care. It's provided at no cost to the family. This can be a major help in a very stressful time for families. One less thing to worry about is definitely a gift.  Essentia says even with their discount rates for local hotel rooms, lodging can cost families $135 per night, plus the cost of food and dining. Dinner is served 7 nights a week, and on the weekends they will also serve brunch.  The average hospital stay for their pediatric unit is about 4 days, but some patients need much longer stays. That can really add up.

The house will have five private bedrooms, along with a full kitchen, family room, laundry room, and even a pantry stocked with dry goods.  Five families can occupy the Ronald McDonald house at the same time.

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This is the first Ronald McDonald House to be built outside of the Twin Cities metro area. It's now the 5th house in the Ronald McDonald House Charities Upper Midwest since 1979.

Social workers will determine the priority for pediatric patient families for use of the house, and will be based on the severity of the child's medical needs.

Essentia Health CEO David C. Herman, MD says that he's seen the need for this in Duluth, and that it's a good fit for Essentia Health,

“This Ronald McDonald House is an extension of Essentia’s mission and values. Through my patients and in my role as a member of the Ronald McDonald House Charities Board of Trustees, I have had the privilege to personally witness the profound positive impact a Ronald McDonald House has on children and families in their times of greatest need.”