HOUSTON (February 27, 2007)

Families of critically ill patients in intensive care units at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital now have a "home away from home" in which to rest and recharge at the new Ronald McDonald House at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital.

The 14-room facility is the first Ronald McDonald House in Houston to offer in-room, hands-on care education for parents who are preparing to take home a critically ill infant and need to learn how to operate ventilators and other medical equipment.

"We are honored to open a Ronald McDonald House for the families of our most seriously ill patients," said Craig Cordola, CEO of Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital. "When a child is hospitalized, it can be stressful for the entire family, and it is a great comfort for these families to be able to stay near their sick child."

The Ronald McDonald House at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital is comprised of seven rooms for families of children in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unite and seven rooms for families of children in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.

Both sets of rooms feature a kitchen area with complimentary beverages and snacks, a living room area, mini-library with computer access and laundry facilities. Each sleep/nap room with adjacent bath is designed to give parents a place to rest or spend the night. These special rooms offer families and patients a much-needed respite from hospital waiting areas.

All seven rooms located adjacent to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, are "care by parent" rooms, which are specially equipped so that an infant that is being released from the NICU can stay with his or her parents for a night or two before going home.

"These rooms help us transition parents and their infants from hospital to home," said Karen Brumley, administrative director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital. "Parents can stay in these rooms and learn to care for their baby, and they can call a nurse at any time. Parents can then take their baby home, confident that they can provide care."

Designed to be a home-away-from-home in a hospital environment, families stay free of charge at Ronald McDonald House.

"Since opening its doors in 1981, Ronald McDonald House Houston has offered a caring, homelike environment to families of children undergoing treatment for cancer and other serious illnesses," said Naomi Scott, executive director of Ronald McDonald House Houston. "The entire Houston community has been very supportive of the mission of Ronald McDonald House. Our hospital programs, including our expansion into Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital, offer an opportunity for us to give back to people right here in Houston.