The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Maine is expanding, nearly doubling the capacity of the nonprofit that gives out-of-town families a free place to stay while their children undergo treatment at Maine Medical Center.

The $2.3 million expansion of a vacant building on Brackett Street within walking distance of Maine Med should be completed by early 2020, said Robin Chibroski, director of the Ronald McDonald House. The nonprofit is renovating an 1856 Greek Revival home in Portland’s West End, building 15 additional guest rooms. The building is located next to the existing Ronald McDonald House.

Chibroski said going from 21 to 36 guest rooms will open up the buildings to more families who currently would not qualify for a stay. For instance, families who have children receiving outpatient chemotherapy treatments, or families with children undergoing behavioral health treatment would potentially be able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House once the expansion is completed. The nonprofit conducted a fundraising campaign for the expansion.

Also, the expansion will include more amenities – such as private bathrooms – for families who need extended stays.

“This will help our long-stay families, who we are trying to support and have it be as comfortable for them as possible,” Chibroski said. “It will also be easier for them to have visitors, like aunts, uncles and siblings.”

Nearly half of the stays at the house are for families with infants in the neonatal intensive care unit. Some stay for months while their children are being cared for.

Dr. John Bancroft, chair of pediatrics at Maine Medical Center and Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital, said he’s excited by the expansion because the house provides a valuable service.

“We have children coming from all over the state and parts of New Hampshire to Maine Med, so for families to be able to spend some quiet time at the Ronald McDonald House to collect themselves is really quite important,” Bancroft said.

The Ronald McDonald House opened in 1995 as a 15-bed facility.

 

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