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'A place of healing': New Ronald McDonald House opens on South Waterfront in Portland

The 76-room facility will provide a home for families of patients receiving medical treatment at OHSU

PORTLAND, Ore. — Families traveling to Portland for medical care now have one less thing to worry about. Often, people come from all over the region to get medical treatment at the hospital and when they do, they often have to worry about where to stay and how much it'll all cost.

"I would really have to go out of pocket for gas every day from Salem to here. Just going two trips is pretty steep," said Walter Lathe, whose son was born nine weeks early. He and his family have to stay close to the hospital so his son can get the care he needs.

"[He has] chronic lung disease, severe asthma, six holes in his heart, and a brain abnormality," Lathe’s fiancé, Allison Aho, said.

Fortunately for Lathe and Aho, on Wednesday, a brand-new OHSU housing facility and Ronald McDonald House on the South Waterfront opened its doors.

Credit: Christine Pitawanich, KGW
The Ronald McDonald House on the South Waterfront in Portland, Oregon.

It'll give families more peace of mind as they get treatment at OHSU.

Wednesday was move-in day at the Gary and Christine Rood Family Pavilion.

Lathe, his fiancé, and their little girl, Melody, were among the first to move in.

They’re staying in a beautiful room with a view. It’s one of 76 rooms for families who have to travel to OHSU and need to stay close by. Thirty eight of those rooms are dedicated to pediatric patients. The rest are for adult patients. The $32-million building is five stories tall and has everything families might want or need, from a kitchen to toys to various areas to unwind. The location is perfect, right at the bottom of the OHSU aerial tram.

Credit: Christine Pitawanich, KGW
Inside the Ronald McDonald House on the South Waterfront in Portland, Oregon.

The project is a partnership between OHSU and Ronald McDonald House Charities.

"OHSU has invested in this incredibly beautiful building and Ronald McDonald House Charities is here to operate the space for families and ensure children and families can stay free of charge," said Jessica Jarratt Miller, the CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Oregon and Southwest Washington.

The building itself is named after Gary and Christine Rood. They live in Clark County and have supported healthcare in the area for about 25 years. The couple donated $12 million to build the guest house.

"With this building, our families have a home and nothing could be more important," said Dr. Dana Braner, physician in chief for Doernbecher Hospital chair of the Department of Pediatrics at OHSU.

"This is an amazing place. It's a place of healing," he said.

"It's really a blessing," Lathe said.

Over the course of a year, it's expected roughly 3,000 families and individuals will stay at the guest house. There’s no specific time limit. Families will be allowed to stay for as long as their family member continues to need medical care.