Portland’s South Waterfront will soon become the temporary home for residents of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Oregon and Southwest Washington’s West House. Opened in 1984, the West House houses hundreds of families whose seriously ill children are receiving treatment at Doernbecher and Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) yearly. Unfortunately, it has become too expensive to keep open.
Executive Director Tom Soma and Doernbecher Children’s Hospital administrator Kevin O’Boyle announced the closing of the house in mid-January of this year. They will be closing the house July 1, and they plan to open new lodging for families of seriously ill children within three years. Until then, however, the nonprofit will be housing those families at the Marriott Residence Inn in the South Waterfront neighborhood.
The Ronald McDonald house will operate enough rooms to house 25 families, which accounts for eight more families than the West House currently holds. The nonprofit will be working with the OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. West House housed 680 family visits last year, but they had to turn away families 437 times because it did not have enough room, according to The Oregonian.
The nonprofit is calling West House Waterfront the Marriott arrangement. There, families will have space to gather and play areas stocked with toys. Community volunteers and Marriott employees will provide meals, and families will have access to the hotel’s fitness center, swimming pool, and laundry facilities. Convenient transportation between the riverside hotel and Doernbecher will also be provided, although details have yet to be worked out.
Tom Soma was quoted saying, “We remain committed to creating the community of support only a Ronald McDonald House can provide.”
Hence, although West House has become too expensive to keep open, and they are forced to make some changes, they are still taking care of families in need. In fact, they are trying to create a more accommodating experience for such families with children receiving treatment.