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Ronald McDonald Family Room at EIRMC officially opens

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A tour of the new Ronald McDonald Family Room in the video above. | Rett Nelson,

IDAHO FALLS — After years of planning and a year of fundraising, the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center is officially complete.

“We’ve been able to build this program from scratch in less than a year’s time,” Ronald McDonald House Charities of Idaho board president Lisa Bescherer said Thursday afternoon. “It was many years in the making, but we’ve been able to hit the gas and really bring this dream to life.”

Board members, hospital employees and members of the community celebrated the room’s completion during a ribbon-cutting and open house.

RELATED | Construction on the Ronald McDonald Family Room getting underway

Since the ceremonial hammer swing in April, crews have been working hard to transform the former office space into a 2,800-square-foot home away from home for families with sick or injured children. The Ronald McDonald Family Room will allow them a quiet place to get something to eat, take a shower, do laundry, watch TV, take a nap or even stay the night steps away from their hospitalized child.

Children need family most when they are sick, Bescherer says, and this facility will help keep families together during those critical times.

“Having a space like this is really important to families who come from outlying areas,” she says. “A lot of families will come to the hospital with many hours of driving ahead of them. That makes it very difficult, if not impossible, for those families to make a quick trip home.”

EIRMC cares for patients up and down the Interstate 15 corridor and U.S. Highway 20. Hospital CEO Jeff Sollis says their reach also extends into western Wyoming and southwestern Montana.

“Fifty percent of the hospital’s air transports come from western Wyoming,” Sollis says. “As we think about the future and who we are serving as a hospital, we’re always thinking about our neighbors in Wyoming and Montana.”

Lena and Josh Archibald of Idaho Falls have spent the last two years in and out of the Ronald McDonald House in Boise when their 9-year-old son Christian got sick.

“The Ronald McDonald House has really made such a huge difference for us. We’ve been about a dozen times with varying members of the family coming with us,” Lena says. “The staff provide every possible thing that we could even imagine we’d need. That encourages my son to go back, rather than fighting to get in the car to go to these doctor’s appointments.”

The Archibalds’ are excited to have a brand new facility so close to home and look forward to volunteering at the Idaho Falls location.

Community members were invited to come tour the space Thursday afternoon. The Family Room at 3100 Channing Way will officially open its doors to local families with sick children Friday.

Since fundraising efforts for the family room began, Ernie Unger, the committee chair for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Idaho, says the community has been overwhelmingly supportive in bringing the family room to Idaho Falls.

“I really don’t know of a place that does it better than Idaho. When there’s somebody in need, you folks step up to the plate and make it happen. It’s really marvelous,” Unger says.

Ashley Furniture HomeStore donated the furniture in the room and other businesses have contributed.

Despite the donations, Mindy Plumlee, the board’s executive director, says they are still about $20,000 short of their $766,000 goal. But they’re now asking for the public’s help in stocking the family room with food and snacks, rather than donate cash.

They’ve put together an online wish list of requested items, which you can purchase and donate to the Family Room.

You can also help serve families utilizing the space as a volunteer. To learn more, click here