By Karen Brune Mathis – Jacksonville Daily Record
Ronald McDonald House, the Southbank Jacksonville nonprofit that has housed more than 31,500 families while their children received medical care, is preparing to almost double the number of rooms it offers to visiting patients.
The city is reviewing the building-permit application for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Jacksonville Inc. to add 24 rooms to the 30-bedroom facility at a project cost of almost $7.63 million.
The city and the St. Johns River Water Management District have been reviewing the plans for the 27,671-square-foot addition to the 40,000-square-foot building. England, Thims & Miller Inc. is the project engineer.
Danis Construction LLC is the contractor for the three-story expansion and the partial renovation of the existing three-story facility.
Executive Director Diane Boyle said the project includes some renovations of existing rooms and common areas, as well as the addition of a rooftop healing garden.
“It is based on the incredible need for expansion,” Boyle said. She said the house has been at 95 percent capacity for the past two years as Jacksonville grows its reputation as a destination for pediatric care.
The building, at 824 Children’s Way, is near Nemours Children’s Clinic and Wolfson Children’s Hospital.
Boyle said the nonprofit is in the private phase of a capital campaign that will be announced after Labor Day.
More than 300 Ronald McDonald Houses operate nationwide.
The first 10-bedroom Ronald McDonald House in Jacksonville opened in 1988 near what is now the UF Health Jacksonville medical center in Springfield. As pediatric health care services were developed on the Southbank, the new house opened with 20 bedrooms in 2001 and another 10 rooms were added in 2004.
Its website, rmhcjacksonville.org, reports that the house offers support and temporary lodging to families. The house provides 30 bedrooms with several features including private baths, free wireless Internet access, phones and voicemail; a kitchen with food storage for each family; a business center with Internet access and a children’s computer room; laundry facilities; and van transportation to area hospitals and clinics.