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To Russia with Love
Pediatric oncology patients often receive treatment for more than six months. So when Yana was diagnosed with cancer at 4, her family knew it had a long road ahead.
Yana was hospitalized at Kazan Children’s Hospital in Russia, where all patients younger than 12 must have a parent stay with them. Like any parent, Yana’s mother, Svetlana, wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else.
But parents staying on the oncology floor slept on cots beside their children — six people in a room. The 50 adults staying with their children shared bathrooms and had no laundry facilities. Yana’s mother not only had to cope with her child’s frightening illness, but she also had to endure months of living in difficult conditions.
A year after her first treatment was completed, Yana and her mother returned to the hospital for another long stay, but this time things were different. To their surprise, a Ronald McDonald Family Room was under construction in the hospital.
The Path to Progress
RMHC Russia is creating a network of Ronald McDonald Family Rooms across the country. Its strategic goal is an ambitious plan to extend its system of care in many children’s oncology units. RMHC Russia relies on the active involvement of McDonald’s restaurant managers and crews to help with the day-to-day operations in Family Rooms in their area.
The Ronald McDonald Family Room at Kazan opened in 2005. Since then, Family Rooms have opened in children’s hospitals in Orenburg, Cheboksary (Chuvash Republic), Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Samara and Saratov. Each Ronald McDonald Family Room serves 250 families of pediatric patients a year.
Ronald McDonald Family Rooms differ depending on the needs of each hospital, but each are brightly colored and inviting, and they include a playroom and recreational area, kitchen, living room, as well as laundry and bathroom facilities.
When Yana was hospitalized for a second time a year later, she and her mother checked on the progress of the Family Room. Yana became one of its most eager volunteers. “The night before the grand opening, the staff was cleaning, making everything perfect, and we were exhausted,” says Svetlana Polyakova, executive director of RMHC Russia. “Yana came in and said, ‘How can I help you?’ The only thing left was to put up the stickers of Ronald McDonald’s big shoes along the hospital walls. Yana put up more than 40 stickers so everyone could find their way to the Family Room.”