Ronald McDonald House in Wauwatosa exploring facility addition

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Ronald McDonald House Charities Eastern Wisconsin is exploring a possible building addition to its Wauwatosa facility to meet growing demand for its services.

The organization, which provides lodging for families whose children are receiving medical care at Children’s Wisconsin and other area hospitals, last completed an expansion of its facility at 8948 W. Watertown Plank Road in 2014. Since then, it has increased the number of people it serves, and last year began hitting its capacity, said Ann Petrie, president and chief executive officer of RMHC Eastern Wisconsin. 

“Last year and this year, we were starting to turn families away, which we don’t want to do, as our mission is all about trying to have families be able to be here,” Petrie said.

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The facility, which has 70 rooms, served more than 2,800 families in 2019. 

“The fact that Children’s Hospital remains such a prominent medical facility for pediatric care and as they continue to expand and offer specialized services, families from all over the country and non-U.S. countries bring their child here to get treated,” Petrie said. “That continued excellence … has resulted in our need for the additional rooms and our growth in the number of families that stay with us.”

RMHC’s board has formed an expansion committee and retained Continuum Architects + Planners and CG Schmidt for the possible expansion, Petrie said. She said the organization hasn’t decided on a project scope or timeline yet. 

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The potential addition would be built on the 4 acres of vacant land that RMHC purchased from Milwaukee County in 2012. 

The organization’s $10 million, 26,400-square-foot expansion in 2014 doubled its capacity, from 37 to 70 rooms, and added a music therapy room, fitness center, study rooms and new kitchens. 

As it lays the groundwork for a possible expansion, Petrie said RMHC is evaluating how the COVID-19 pandemic might affect its services in the future, as more patients receive care via telehealth in lieu of in-person doctor’s visits. 

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“Every business is looking at how is life post-COVID going to look like,” Petrie said. “And we certainly, as a board, want to make sure we’re big enough to serve our families because that’s why we’re here but, by the same token, we want to do the right kind of build that will accommodate families in need in this post-COVID environment.”

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