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Cincinnati Now Home To Largest Ronald McDonald House In The World

ronald mcdonald house cincinnati
Ronald McDonald House Cincinnati
A patient stands in front of Ronald McDonald House's newest space in Cincinnati.

Children's Hospital is the third best children's hospital in the country, bringing in families from all over who have a child in need of specialized treatment. The newly expanded Ronald McDonald House can now help more of those families. At 177 rooms, the location across the street from the hospital is now the biggest in the world.

The Ronald McDonald House provides housing for families with children who need long or short-term treatment at the hospital. There, they can get the conveniences of home — hot meals, warm beds, laundry facilities — during their hospital stay.

But the waitlist to get into a room can be long, said Jennifer Loeb, executive director of Ronald McDonald House Charities.

"Part of the reason our house has such a long waiting list is because of the expertise at Cincinnati Children's," Loeb says. "They have some of the top doctors and surgeons in the world for some very specialty areas and departments." 

For example, she said the hospital specializes in bone marrow transplants, NICU, colorectal and cardiac surgery.

"They have a lot of amazing specialists here and that brings families to us from across the United States and all around the world," she says.

The facility started with 20 rooms more than two decades ago and eventually grew to 48, then 78 rooms in 2009. Still, Loeb says they're nearly always at capacity.

So the organization raised $52 million and construction began on a new seven-story building about two years ago. New families started using two floors of the facility about two weeks ago.

"It's been really fun — after being in the thick of construction and fundraising for two years — it's been amazing to see people come through the building for the first time and hear them react to it," she says.

The new building has a rooftop viewing area that overlooks Avondale and has an open feel to it.

"We hear a lot of comments about the big open windows and all the natural light that comes in, and that's really important for our families who are so emotionally and physically exhausted from supporting their kids in the hospital," Loeb says.

A virtual ribbon cutting happening Monday afternoon celebrates the opening of the building and a Thursday virtual event will reveal the interior space and host conversations with guest families.

Jolene Almendarez is the granddaughter of Mexican immigrants who came to San Antonio in the 1960s. She was raised in a military family and has always called the city home. She studied journalism at San Antonio College and earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism and Public Communications from the University of Alaska Anchorage. She's been a reporter in San Antonio and Castroville, Texas, and in Syracuse and Ithaca, New York.